“You can’t just rest on your laurels”
Posted September 18, 2008on:
This article from USA Today takes up the same issue I’ve discussed in my last two posts: post-Olympics celebrity.
The reporter seems to argue that Mary Lou Retton has faded from the spotlight, which is generally true, except that she always gets a little airtime during Olympic years. And in any case, this is not to say that she has not been successful (she’s a successful motivational speaker).
Then again, I’m a little skeptical of Retton’s claim that she dropped out of U-Texas because classmates were jealous of her fame. The school I went to has its fair share of celebrities, and I don’t think jealousy is their main concern. In any case, I’m most admiring of people like Shannon Miller, who not only completing her college degree but pursuing a higher degree (in law). (And of course people like Kim Zmeskal-Burdette, who have made their careers coaching.)
By contrast, the article also mentions Carly Patterson, who has been unsuccessful in my opinion. Her biggest audiences are at gymnastics events, and those kids love Patterson for other reasons anyway.
The ultimate conclusion is that you don’t make a name for yourself out of gymnastics. You do gymnastics because you love the sport, and even if you get the big endorsements — Retton had more major ones than Nastia Liukin and Shawn Johnson combined — you still have to find something to do with the rest of your life. That can be in gymnastics, or not. But as Kristi Yamaguchi says at the end of this article:
“I worked as hard or harder to build a professional reputation. If you want a career post-Olympics, you can’t just rest on laurels.”