Lochte’s Gold Medal Tarnish

How ironic.

It was barely a week ago that many of us were appreciating the political-campaign respite that the Olympics were affording: ample servings of patriotism, pride and vicarious victories. The opportunity to play down the pandering and mudslinging and cynical maneuvering for a fortnight.

Enter Ryan Lochte and friends.

It was stupid on steroids unconscionably compounded by classlessness.

Lochte, 32, is a University of Florida grad from the Daytona Beach area. He is second only to Michael Phelps as a bedecked gold-medal winner in swimming. He’s made it by cashing in. He dates a Playboy Playmate and has been collecting seven-figure endorsement checks from Speedo USA, Ralph Lauren, Airweave (mattresses) and Syneron Candela (hair removal). At least he used to.

He’s now utterly damaged goods, as we’ve already seen. The too-little, too-late interview with Matt Lauer won’t help. He did something dumb, lied about it, left his buddies and fled before he could be questioned. Common sense and a social conscience, let alone PR 101, would have told him what to do within 24 hours. Tiger Woods now looks classy by comparison.

You tell the embarrassing–bachelor-party mortification meets frat-boy drunken details–and get it all out of the way (it’s indelicately called the “big dump” in consultant-speak) right away. You don’t let details drip out and dominate multiple news cycles.

Then you “apologize.” None of this Trumpian “regret” stuff (because you looked bad), but an in-person, credible mea culpa to all those adversely impacted. You actually use the word “apologize” and you start with your country, the host country, the host city, the International Olympic Committee and the Olympics, per se, including all participants. And you sound like you mean it, not like you’re reading a hostage statement.

You acknowledge the unique forum that is the Olympics and how your behavior unfairly drew attention from all the competitors enjoying their special moment. You ask for forgiveness and volunteer to work with Special Olympic swimmers in Rio.

You do the right thing. For your country, for the host country, for the host city, for the IOC, for fellow Olympians, for your buddies who used to look up to you–and for yourself. In that order.

Sports Shorts

* Whatever happens next for the Lightning, it has already gone beyond its fellow conference finalists from last year. The Chicago Black Hawks, the Los Angeles Kings and the New York Rangers were eliminated early on. Go, Bolts.

* Maybe Steven Stamkos has played his last game in a Bolts’ uniform–but Nikita Kucherov, 22, hasn’t. He’s a goal-scoring, franchise player in the making who will only get better.

* Not that USF has to be reminded, but nothing would help its case for inclusion in Big 12 expansion scenarios more than a consistently winning, big-crowd drawing football program. Softball, tennis, and women’s basketball are points of Bulls’ pride and achievement, but it’s football success and TV market size that matter most.

Water Taxi Debut

As TBX and Go Hillsborough dominate headlines and polarize residents–while an unacceptable transit status quo continues–something positive on the transportation front is actually happening.

Troy Manthey–of Yacht Starship Dining Cruises fame–will soon expand into the water taxi business. As in regularly scheduled, daily service–with stops along the Riverwalk, in the Channel District and on Davis Islands. Starting next week.

It’s a reminder that Manthey is responding to a marketplace, one that has been evolving into viability. With Tampa’s increasing visitor base and commuting Vinikville doctors part of downtown’s new-urbanism future, Manthey sees an opportunity. One that doesn’t require a tax, and one, mercifully, that doesn’t involve non-Tampa, county voters.

Scott “Epitomizes” MLK Values And Vision

By its nature, MLK Day lends itself to soaring rhetoric. Almost anything goes. Almost.

However, what won’t fly–much less soar–were the MLK Day-themed comments of Florida Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll. They had that quizzical “did she say what I think she said?” quality.

“I can’t think of anybody currently in my life right now that more epitomizes the values and the vision of Dr. King than Gov. Rick Scott” is what she said. Honest. Who knew that MLK had a parallel-universe dream of an America that would one day welcome attractive house negroes running for high office to balance a ticket topped by an election-buying right winger?

Perhaps “Birth of a Nation” is her favorite movie too.