Moral minority

Oui (Now defunct porn mag): Is there a code of dos and don’ts in a championship?

Schwarzenegger (Current republican frontrunner in California gubernatorial race): Of course; but when you become a star almost anything goes. It’s like Ali doing something dirty in the ring — not many people are going to take it too seriouisly. You’re not supposed to talk while you’re posing, for example, yet I used to do it all the time and it would blow the other guys’ minds. If you were going through the compulsory poses — a double bicepts pose, say — I’d just turn to the guy next to me and say, “What a shame, what a disadvantage for you,” or I’d psych him in reverse by saying the disadvantage was mine, that he was definitely going to be the one to win. Once, I even sent a guy off-stage. He was enormous, really fantastic, and the audience was screaming for both of us, so you knew it was going to be close. After about 15 minutes of posing, I told him that I’d had enough and that we ought to quit, just walk off. He agreed, turned around and left and I just stayed on. The audience immediately turned against him and I won — my first Mr. Olympia title, in 1970.

[via Smoking Gun]

An account of the competition:

Oliva leaves the rostrum and Schwarzenegger waves him back, challenging his sportsmanship … Sergio climbs back. He won’t be accused of “chickening out!” in any competition.

The posedown begins all over again – Lewis, Schwarzenegger and Oliva. But the fact that it’s Arnold’s day is now clearer than ever. Gritting teeth, straining muscle, swelling veins, stretching, twisting, flexing. “Arnold – Arnold – Arnold,” the crowd continues and we all know it officially when at the completion of the posedown Bud Parker announces the winner, “Mr. Arnold Schwarzenegger.”

Frankly, I have little problem with Arnold’s womanizing or drugs or partying, all indications that he lives his life at full blast. Maybe I would make different choices, but this hardly disqualifies him from government. When it comes to his scorched earth lack of ethics and his treatment of those whom he feels are his inferiors, it makes me sick that he would even get a single vote from the people of California.

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8 Comments

  1. Posted 8/28/2003 at 4:00 am | Permalink

    Maybe I’m missing something but, as someone who has participated in competitive sports, I don’t see the harm in playing mind games with your opponents. I can’t say I support him politically, but I can’t say I’d judge him on some comments he made in an interview 26 years ago either.

  2. Posted 8/28/2003 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    There is a difference between playing a psychological game and being unsportsmanlike. He broke the rules, and he is proud of that. I don’t hold people to *mistakes* they may have made in the past, but I don’t see any indication that his outlook has changed.

    I played judo competitively. You go onto the mats with a competitive spirit. You do whatever possible to instill fear in the opponent. You try to win before you go in. Some people play dirty. And those people suck.

    At the last tourney I participated in, a young judoka–maybe 12 years old–lost a fight. At the end of a fight the opponents bow to one another, and often shake hands. The kid walked forward as if he were going to shake hands and then snap-kicked to the ribs, fracturing the other kid’s rib, as I recall. He, his coach, and his entire school were banned from competition for a year and kicked out of the tourney.

    In another competition, this time when I was much younger (15 or so?), I had my opponent pinned. I needed a 30 second pin to win, and on the side where the referees could not see (I thought), my opponent was trying to gouge my eye with his thumb–not allowed. I won, and the judge, *after* declaring my win, penalized the loser “for the record.” He then went and talked to his coach.

    I knew someone who in high school sharpened his nails to a point when playing volleyball to gouge other members of the team at the net, and folks who played water polo who did the same thing with their toenails. This is different than a kick to the thigh or calf or side–something that is a regular part of the game. This is breaking the rules.

    Perhaps you don’t think tricking someone verbally is the same sort of thing. It strikes me that someone who wins a close competition by (a) breaking the rules and (b) tricking someone into leaving the stage by making an agreement with the intention of breaking it is “ethically challenged.” In my mind there is a big difference between playing hard and playing dirty. Perhaps the standards are lower for a sports pro than they are for a governor–I don’t think they should be, though.

  3. Posted 8/28/2003 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

    This kind of sounds like the argument people made that Clinton was unfit to be President because he cheated on his wife. I don’t think one necessarily has anything to do with the other.

    I certainly don’t think his conduct is comparable to kicking someone in the ribs. From looking at the rules for “My Olympia”, the only thing that seems even close to being related to what he did was rule #3 of their code of ethics which states that participants agree “to respect our opponents on equal terms in the spirit of friendly rivalry and good sportsmanship.” The IFBB Pro Rules define unsportsmanlike conduct the following way:


    14.5 Unsportsmanlike Conduct:
    Any Member, who openly and/or publicly criticizes, complains, condemns or protests a
    contest decision or an individual judge’s decision, whether verbally, in print, or by
    unsportsmanlike conduct, whether onstage, backstage, at the contest venue, at the
    Official Hotel, or in any other place remotely related to the contest, will be subject to a
    fine and/or suspension. The first offense will be a US $1,000.00 fine; the second offense
    will be a US $5,000.00 fine, the third offense will be a US $10,000.00 fine plus a oneyear
    suspension; the fourth offense will be expulsion from the IFBB. If an athlete attacks
    another athlete, judge or official, whether verbally or through malicious innuendo, gossip
    and/or rumor-mongering, that athlete will be subject to a fine of US $10,000.00 and a
    one-year suspension. If an athlete physically assaults another athlete, judge or official,
    that athlete will be expelled from the IFBB.

    “Scorched earth lack of ethics” seems like hyperbole to me. Especially when you are judging him for something he did when he was 23 years-old and does not look like was specifically against the rules of his sport.

  4. Posted 8/28/2003 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

    Sam: This is something we’ll have to agree to disagree upon. I don’t think “I was young” is ever an excuse for lack of character. Character flaws are not something you just grow out of. It really not an issue of whether he followed the letter of the rules (though in the linked interview he freely admits that he could violate them because he was a star), it’s whether winning is more important than the way you play the game. He won the competition because he implied an agreement with a competitor and intentionally misled him, in order to ridicule him. He didn’t win because he trained harder or was better at the sport. It’s the kind of thing you learn is wrong when you are 7 or 8. If you don’t know it at 23, you don’t know it at 53.

    And yes, Clinton revealed a significant lack of character when he lied to his wife and to a court. On the other hand, if your opinion is that of the majority of Americans (I hope it is not, but suspect it is), then we get who we deserve–and who we vote for. That’s democracy.

  5. Posted 8/28/2003 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

    Fair enough.

  6. Posted 8/30/2003 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    I’m not a US citizen, but something I’ve heard often from US citizens:

    “We do get what we didn’t deserve; and what we didn’t vote for – George W Bush; apparently, that too is democracy” – to be fair, this is from a very Democratic region in the country :-)

  7. Posted 8/30/2003 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    Babu: Well, it may be an overgeneralization to say that we get what we deserve–the choice is rarely as broad as I might like. I admit that Bush has been far worse than I expected. Had I known he would perform this badly, I probably would have voted for Gore rather than Nader. Makes me wish for a parliamentary government in some ways.

    On the other hand, I do have difficulty with some of the wining regarding the election. It was a very close election. The kinds of error and malfeasance we saw during the election were only made apparent because it was so close–similar problems have almost certainly existed in every presidential election that has preceded it. Yes, Bush won through some last minute maneuverings, and no, I don’t think that he should have won. But at some point you need to place the blame where it really belongs: on nearly half of the voting population who voted for him. And then you need to think about the future, and how to teach the public why Bush’s policies are wrong.

  8. Posted 8/31/2003 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

    The sad thing is that even if you voted for Gore it wouldn’t have mattered because of this electoral college nonsense. I agree on the parlimentary system and I am also a big supporter of Instant Runoff Voting.

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