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And Another Thing

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Associated Press

Time to lay off Lolo

Her teammates snipe at her. The New York Times killed at least one tree to cheap-shot her. And after she finished fourth in her specialty -- the 100m hurdles -- at the Olympic Games, it was open season on Lolo Jones.

All that attention, and she doesn't even medal?

Well, no. She finished fourth. In the fastest women's 100 hurdles race in history, I might add.

I'd also add this: So what?

Look, if you've got a problem with Lolo Jones scoring endorsements usually reserved for Olympic gold medalists, or garnering media attention usually reserved for same, look in the mirror. Mass media doesn't create demand; consumers of mass media create demand. And if you didn't want More Lolo, there wouldn't be More Lolo.

So I'm not going to rip her for being smarter about marketing herself than the teammates carping at her. They could have done it, too. They didn't. So that's Jones' fault?

And as to the Times hatchet job on Jones last Sunday .... sure, she's getting more media attention than a lot of other more "worthy" athletes. But again, whose fault is that?

Nobody put a gun to the Times' head and forced it to devote two full columns of ink to her in its Sunday editions. They decided to do that themselves. So it's more than a little amusing to read a whole piece decrying the fact that she's made herself a media darling when you've just contributed to that by decrying the fact she's made herself a media darling.

Here's the deal: Contrary to what the Times' Jere Longman and others in the media want you to believe, Jones is no Anna Kournikova. She's the American record-holder in the event. She holds two world indoor titles.

And her back story is as compelling as anyone's in the Games. She grew up dirt poor; her family once lived in the church basement back home in Iowa. She shoplifted to get by for a time. She overcame spinal cord surgery and two hamstring injuries to just make the Olympic team.

And, of course, there's the whole 30-year-old virgin thing.

In any other context, she'd be getting the John Tesh treatment: Earnest, dramatic voice-overs; soaring schmaltz-laden musical scores; all of that Tearjerker Central business that's become the staple of so much of our Olympic coverage now.

But because Jones landed a few juicy endorsement deals, she got none of that. Instead she got the shaft.

Ben Smith's blog.

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