|the whole thing|
I met Suzy Favor back in the early 1990s when she was finishing her college running career at the University of Wisconsin.
I was writing a book called From Red Ink to Roses: The Turbulent Transformation of a Big Ten Program, about UW’s nearly bankrupt athletic department and the way it got itself into profitability and won the Rose Bowl in the process.
Favor and I had an appointment to meet at the baseball diamond on a lovely spring afternoon, and as I waited, I saw a distant figure grow from a speck to a human being. And there she was before me. Rather than drive or ride a bike or hitch a ride, Favor had simply run the mile or so across campus because it was so easy.
She came so we could chat, but also because her boyfriend, Mark Hamilton, was a UW baseball player, and his sport was soon to be cut in the athletic department’s vicious road to profitability.
‘‘I’m glad I’m in a sport where all you need is a pair of shoes and someplace to run,’’ she said as one of the final baseball games unrolled before us.
Wow. What a couple of decades it has been for Favor. She married Hamilton two weeks later, graduated from Wisconsin, won numerous national championships in middle-distance events, ran in three Olympics and then, in the last year, at age 44, became a high-class hooker.
Yes, it sounds crazy, but once outed by The Smoking Gun website, Favor Hamilton admitted she had started working for a Las Vegas service that sent her to different cities where she earned $600 an hour from clients or $6,000 for an entire day of performing the ‘‘full girlfriend experience.’’
The odd thing? She wasn’t doing it for money. She often was traveling to the cities to give motivational speeches, and then she’d do the sex thing on the side. She and Hamilton live in an expensive house outside Madison and do not appear to be in any financial straits. It had to do — she sort of explained — with her depression, need for adventure, fantasy fulfillment and . . . well, she says she hopes to find out more from ongoing psychological therapy.
Back when I met her, Favor stood 5-3 and weighed 105 pounds. She was pretty and courteous, but there was a glint of ferocity in her eyes, of suppressed danger.
I saw the look in many of the Wisconsin middle-distance and long-distance female runners. In my book, I made special note of them, of their lapses into near insanity, of their successes and crashes and eating disorders and dependence on their controlling German head coach, Peter Tegen.
Some of those UW girls looked like they weighed less than 100 pounds, with sunken eyes and arms as gaunt as coat hangers, eating white lettuce and diet soft drinks for days on end. For them, Favor was sort of a golden girl, but in many ways I saw her as no different from the obsessed and barely rooted others.
‘‘I realize I have made highly irrational choices and I take full responsibility for them,’’ Favor Hamilton said on her Twitter account about her escort work. ‘‘I am not a victim here and knew what I was doing.’’
She added, ‘‘I do not expect people to understand.’’
And, indeed, it is difficult. As I wrote in my book, Her visibility as an attractive world-class athlete has recently garnered her a slew of endorsement contracts. Though she does not graduate for a week and is still technically an amateur, she has deals with Reebok, Blue Cross Blue Shield, a Honda dealership, a poster company and Wisconsin Manufactured Housing, makers of prefab moveable homes.
‘‘The head of that company told me they received 2,700 calls because of the commercial, which ran for just about a month,’’ she says proudly.
Her life seemed all joy, but it wasn’t. I remember seeing her at the Olympics in Sydney 2000, watching her fall in the 1,500 meters — for no apparent reason — and she later would say she fell on purpose, because she couldn’t win. What do you do later in life, when winning at anything becomes even more difficult?
How crazy were the UW runners? One told me how, because of anorexia and bulimia, she had not had her period in nine years. One ran until her bones started breaking. Stephanie Herbst, a national champion, won an NCAA 10,000-meter title race in Bloomington, Ind., in which another obsessed young woman, a dean’s-list pre-med student from North Carolina State who had set a U.S. collegiate record six weeks earlier, ran off the track in mid-race, climbed a seven-foot fence, sprinted down a city road and then flung herself off a 35-foot high bridge. The runner survived but was paralyzed for life.
The thing is, Herbst didn’t even notice. Or much care. Indeed, as she told reporters later, the attempted suicide was ‘‘a typical situation’’ and ‘‘not really so unusual.’’ Herbst, who stood 5-7, weighed 95 pounds. The girl who tried to kill herself wasn’t much different: 5-8, 108 pounds.
This is not to say all female distance runners have eating disorders or other serious issues. But many members of that Wisconsin team did. And maybe it has taken them a lifetime to work things out.
As Tegen said of Favor in 1993, with a grin, ‘‘She has a fierce will to win that is not sweet at all.’’
We could probably take " lots of distance runners out of the title and just say " lots of females are nut jobs"
|Callin' it Real|
That's for sure. Yet another reason why we should not be allowing females to compete at any distance longer than 800m.
|men are whack jobs too|
Second this. It seems the male-dominant board is playing 'kick the dog' on the women lately (due to their own insecurities), when there's just as many whack job men distance runners out there.
She landed on the ground on the east side of the river, as she did not jump from close enough to the middle to be over the river itself. About a 30 foot fall.
|grievance misunderstanding no|
I'd like to air a grievance with the dudely habit of deliberately misunderstanding refusal. You know, when men suddenly experience an utterly confounding ambiguity in standard modes of refusal that, in all non-boink-related contexts, are completely transparent? This purposeful denial of women’s humanity, it’s pretty much the nub of patriarchal oppression.
I’d like to ask the reader to do a brief mental exercise. (If you’d rather not, just skip to the next paragraph.) I’d like you to remember the last time you found it difficult to give an explicit “no” to somebody in a non-sexual context. Maybe they asked you to do them a favour, or to join them for a drink. Did you speak up and say, outright, “No”? Did you apologise for your “no”? Did you qualify it and say, “Oh, I’m sorry, I can’t make it today“? If you gave an outright “no”, what privileged positions do you occupy in society, and how does your answer differ from the answers of people occupying more marginalised positions?
This form of refusal was analysed in 1999 by Kitzinger and Frith (K&F) in Just Say No? The Use of Conversation Analysis in Developing a Feminist Perspective on Sexual Refusal. Despite the seeming ambiguity in question/refusal acts like, “We were wondering if you wanted to come over Saturday for dinner”, “Well, uhh, it’d be great but we promised Carol already”, they are widely understood by the participants as straightforward refusals.
K&F conclude by saying that, “For men to claim [in a sexual context] that they do not ‘understand’ such refusals to be refusals (because, for example, they do not include the word ‘no’) is to lay claim to an astounding and implausible ignorance of normative conversational patterns
Especially intriguing is the notion that the unequivocal “no” is the exclusive purview of privilege.
Lynn Jennings, Doris Heritage-Brown, Julie Shea, Cathy Shiro, Betty Springs, Patty Sue Plummer, and the list goes on and on.....There are normal, competitive, "ferocious" female runners out there who have retired and have gone on to live normal, happy, maybe even boring lives of being wives, mothers, coaches. Not all have to continually be stroked or bask in attention.
|What Was the Real Story|
Two quotes from this LA Times story give me pause and cause to infer that there might have been more to Kathy Ormsby's situation than the pressures of competitive distance running. The first:
"And two finer people than Sallie and Dale Ormsby, you'll never meet. Kathy's daddy is head of the Burlington plant and probably held in as high regard as anybody I know. They're quiet and somewhat to themselves. Just good down- to-earth Christian people."
Call me a cynic but all descriptions of the "quiet, private Christian" family make me wonder what was really going on behind closed doors.
And the second:
"Tremendous leg strength," said Whitfield, the Richmond High athletic director. "I used to tell her how pretty her legs looked when she wore shorts."
What kind of educator tells a high school girl that she has great legs if he doesn't have something perverted in mind? Could he have acted on his lust?
|break it up|
Telander is a decent writer. He was a football player in college at Northwestern so he has an athletic background. But he has no clue about running. He had an agenda when he wrote that book and spent a considerable focus on the female distance runners who were in a sport he could never understand. He wanted to write a sensational book about all the negative aspects of a big time college sports program.
He makes a point that when he interviewed Suzy she actually ran a mile to meet him, rather than catch a ride. Or ride a bike. What's wierd about that? Its a big campus, no parking anywhere that doesn't cost you. A 10 minute jog is nothing for a fit collegiate runner to go a mile to meet some writer. I used to run to classes.
I didn't like that book but he did spotlight what college sports has come to. Why do Colleges have athletics?
Maybe instead of treating competitive female runners like they already have eating disorders as soon as they even mention wanting to lose weight for the sake of performance gain, we should stop this subject from being taboo and have an honest conversation about how much weight competitive runners can lose and, if there is any weight to lose, how they can do so in a healthy manner.
As a female runner I can honestly say that at least 90% of the women I know in this sport (including myself) are very concerned about our weights but afraid to actually talk about it. This leads to secret dieting which (in the absence of someone to hold us accountable) quickly spirals out of control.
|break it up|
And for the record, Kathy Ormsby dropped out of the 1986 10,000 and climbed the rail in front of the stands near the steeplechase water pit. She ran straight up the bleacher seats right past where I was sitting. Her coach was sitting right next to me one row down. I thought she needed to use the bathrooms which were right in that area but she climped the 8 or 9 foot fence by the street and her coach let her go for maybe 1 minute max and then got up and took off after her.
Telendar was only wrong that it was in Bloomington, not Indy.
It was all shocking. She didn't drop out and cry, she went by me with the same calm, focused look in her eyes she had when she was racing.
Was in Indy in 86 and was actually splitting Ormsby as part of the Track and Field News split crew when she ran off the track. Ever since I have closely studied the issues of female distance runners with my own athletes and with others I have had opportunity to be around.
Peter Tegan WAS the problem with many in Wisconsin program. Great results because he essentially brain-washed his crew but the long-term results are another matter. Saw this up close and in detail from his own comments to his athletes comments.
Many and I mean MANY female distance runners are prone to hop from bed to bed. Spent time this summer in Europe around a dozen or so. Some married, some single, all getting their regular fill. Now that said MOST of the guys on the circuit from distance to sprints to field event guys were really no different. Women are always seen as the sluts and guys the studs. This cultural double standard is totally unfair to women but is still the case. The gypsy lifestyle of traveling from city to city makes it easy to cheat on "loved" ones back in US. The top athletes command single rooms which only encourages MORE of this behavior.
I was around a couple female distance runners in Monaco this summer in the lobby of the Fairmont which has its notorious modelesque dozen or so working women who go for $2000 (1500 euros) an hour and one remarked "I am in the wrong business, they are making more in a night than I am making in a year in Europe" Truth! That same night I know of 3 US male Olympians who paid such a price and were hailed by friends and associates and given high 5's and backslaps. Perhaps this is where Suzy got her side gig start??? I mean she commanded her own single room and the money was far better having sex than grinding it out on the track. Easy way for starving runners to supplement their income.
Suzy is hardly the first US distance runner to enjoy sex and the rumored daliances of many of our sports distance stars date back 4 decades and I personally have the evidence on over 3 dozen myself. I think the extreme degree that distance runners have to put themselves through to be their best leads to this activity as a release or reaction to the stresses.
While I wish SFH all the best and hope she comes through this in good shape I fear she has only just begun to face her demons as family and friends and business associates react in such a variety of ways. Its easy for those of us a step or 2 removed from her life to say things and wish her well but truth is as others have said she faces a helluva challenge. Can she leave the thrill of her new work she no doubt was still enjoying based on her comments to the reporter or will she be drawn back into it?
|way off the grid|
This could set her back big time, but who know she'll come out ahead.
She could lose about everything, her marriage/family and maybe end up with the punitive share in a divorce settlement; almost all sponsorships and speaking engagements could be taken (e.g., RnR Marathons, U. Wisconsin, etc., have already backed away). Then what?
The Talibanners here would probably prefer stoning, but we are a civilized society (not really). Anyway, she could get left out the cold personally and financially. Who knows maybe she could shack up with some of the high-rolling Johns she met.
That said, her husband may forgive and work through this with her and she could get lucrative book and movie deals, while end up being women's sports commentator on ESPN. Now that'd outrage the high and mighty condemners, most of whom I'd like to smack in the face. Not to condone her behavior, but because they are stupid.