In these parts, rooting for the University of Georgia is, as Hank Jr. would say, a family tradition.
My first football jersey was from Florida State, but when that one wore out — circa 1977 — I started rooting for the Bulldogs. It helped that my high school’s colors and football uniforms were patterned after UGA’s (which mimic the Green Bay Packers).
Monday night, however, I rooted against UGA runner Shaunae Miller. As usual, my emotional involvement in a sporting event didn’t effect the outcome.
Miller won a gold medal for The Bahamas by diving across the finish line in the women’s 400-meter race.
My track coach taught me to run through the finish line. It is faster to run than to dive, I was told, and I figured it would even be more painful than finishing last.
I got a lot of bad advice in high school.
Miller didn’t listen to her track coach. She dove and won gold.
U.S. star Allyson Felix didn’t dive and won silver.
Locust Grove High School’s Natasha Hastings didn’t dive either and finished fourth. If fourth place medals had a metal it might be tin, or aluminum, but it would be better than nothing.
If you’re losing and not cheating, you’re not really trying. Perhaps for this reason, diving is legal in track and field.
The rules say the runner’s torso, not just their fingers, have to cross the finish line first, and Miller timed her dive just right.
“Things happen,” said Miller after orchestrating the dramatic upset. “Hey, I got a gold medal.”
She’s not the only UGA athlete bringing home some chrome. So far, the Bulldogs have as many medals — 10 — as host country Brazil.
If UGA was a sovereign nation, like many football fans believe, it would be tied for 14th place among the 205 countries competing in the Olympics and football coach Kirby Smart would be king (until he loses to Florida).
Before we get as cocky as a Crimson Tide graduate, know that Michael Phelps (from Maryland, a state that barely plays football) has won 23 gold medals all by himself. If the Republic of Phelps was a country it would be in 38th place for the most gold medals won in the long history of the Olympics.
As the Baltimore Bullet would tell you, winning isn’t easy. It takes lots of dedication, body wax and — sometimes — being able to forget being robbed at gunpoint.
UGA’s Gunnar Bentz was one of four U.S. swimmers relieved of property Sunday by gunmen pretending to be Rio de Janeiro police officers.
Bentz made history by being the first male Bulldog swimmer to win an Olympic gold medal. He was quickly joined in the record book by UGA teammate Chase Kalisz, who won a silver.
Athens, despite not having a great beach or even a decent river, does rather swimmingly at swimming. UGA swimmers have won 11 gold medals all-time at the Games. Most of UGA’s winners are women, obviously.