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The Last Virgin Festival

Tonja Harding, Nancy Kerrigan, and the Olympic Ideal

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, January 26, 1994.

It is now likely that Olympic sports will be viewed in a more accurate light, due primarily to the actions or acquiescence or direct complicity of one Tonya Harding. Ms. Harding is the punk society's entrant in the world of figure skating, which strictly speaking is not a sport at all but a dance. The accepted champion in the eyes of the predominantly male sports shill community is Nancy Kerrigan, whose bruised knee has given us two Newsweek covers making it nearly the equal of Bosnia and superior to the LA earthquake.

Ms. Kerrigan was recently voted one of the world's most beautiful women, which she may well be, however tainted such an accolade is when it clearly affects the judging of her avocation. Given two women of equal ability, the highly questionable judges will always go for the better looker. Judges are such a joke in ice skating that during the recent event in which Tonya Harding took home the championship while Kerrigan heroically edited million dollar advertising offers, the winners in the doubles were soundly booed, since their routine had been distinguished with incompetence and errors, and they were awarded the trophy on past merit. While noble, it is an attitude understood only in ice skating, which is, in many ways, the last virgin festival in existence.

Nancy Kerrigan is white, lovely, an apparent heterosexual who may or may not be structurally whole, but her image is such that she could sell Ivory Snow. There are so few women athletes of such success and qualities, that corporate America has barely stopped short of offering marriage to the young woman. It is estimated that as long as she appears in the Olympics, she will be able to sign contracts worth at least $10 million; if she wins, the sky only is the limit. She is reserved, quiet, and a credit to her sports organization, so the American Olympic committee is desperate to make sure she makes it and scores high in the medal hunt.

So, let's just nail Tonya Harding, who is obnoxious, tasteless, and - let's be honest - probably as good or better a skater than Kerrigan. Face it, skating is like gymnastics; a drunken announcer could get on TV and give a name to every bead of sweat, every wrinkle in the clothing, every facial grimace and 99% of the audience and possibly 100% of the judges wouldn't know. "That was a marvelous Christianson Contortion coupled with the Legat Facial Secretion; it should go a long way to offset the Gucci Cross Crease in the eyes of the judges." Harding is an attractive enough woman, but she plays pool and has the taste of the all night bowling alley in her men. These are serious no-nos in the world of ice skating, but until the recent events there was no way to get rid of her. She was so gauche, don't you know.

But think of it this way. If Harding figured Kerrigan would win because of her looks, which has nothing to do with the sport and so would be unfair, how much more unfair would it be to have her punched out and not compete? To Harding's mind, the better skater would still win and Kerrigan would get her money anyway. In truth, how much worse is it to assault a competitor than it is to lie to generations of young women. Sure,we always choose the best skater but be glamorous. I find it hard , even if Harding is absolutely guilty, to feel she did anything much worse than what skating judges do every event, which is to say debase the integrity of their sport.

In other news, Michael Jackson, at first blush, seems to unofficially pleaded nolo cotendare to the unofficial charges of child molestation. This because he has apparently reached an out of court settlement for millions of dollars, thus buying his innocence. But I find it far more damning for the plaintiffs. If Jackson is as they say, can they just be bought off? Evidently so. He at least has a plausible reason for getting out that does not necessarily imply his guilt. However, the parents of this child seem to feel totally fine having gouged out the cash. If indeed my child was assaulted, I'd want the man put away.