Interesting: many American visitors reach this blog by a combination of 'Michael Phelps' and 'arrogant' or 'arrogance' (I wrote an entry about Phelps last year.) A few have mailed me today. Of course, whether he is arrogant or not is absolutely irrelevant if he wins 8 medals. But as we're living in a mediaworld, it would be such a better picture for everyone outside the competitive areas of America if he would be able to manage just a little smile..? I think he can't help it, it is his 'typical American-ness'. The way he talked about the relay win to the Dutch swimming legend Inge de Bruijn who interviewed him at the swimming pool: 'it is our medal, our number. It belongs to us'. Oops..? The medal goes to the best team, and in Sydney and Athens the Americans weren't that. There's an interesting cultural difference here. The Dutch often make themselves smaller after winning, the Americans only grow. After winning the Women's relay gold, last Sunday, the Dutch team kept giggling and laughing and stressing their team spirit and the 'typical Dutch underdog role'. Michael Phelps looks like he is on a crusade and can't be happy until he won the last of his battles. But well, I guess he's never had any time left between practice to work on a friendly personality. I admire that fighting spirit, but liking it? That's difficult, but then again, irrelevant. I can only hope that after winning the eight and last one, he'll finally be able to manage that truly winning, open, spontaneous, excited, warm human smile. It's my typical Dutch-ness, forgive me. And I know several Americans who will be able to manage at least a little smile at this point.
For those interested: by clicking on the title of this entry you can read the original piece.