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Ryan Lochte’s Trouble Shows Why You Should Never Lie To Your Mother

Lochte’s story about getting robbed by Brazilian cops is being challenged. Here’s the meaning we should, and shouldn’t, take from his Olympic drama.


I’ve paid far more attention to the Ryan Lochte scandal than I should have and yet I still am a bit foggy on what happened.

Lochte and three of his U.S. Olympic swimming teammates had previously claimed they were robbed at gunpoint by men posing as police in Rio de Janeiro.

Despite, or perhaps because, Rio has a bit of a problem with crime and violence, the powers-that-be fought back hard on the claim.

They say that Ryan and his buddies may have gotten into fights with gas station toilets, lost, and then fought with the security that tried to detain them after their reign of lavatorial terror. Lochte and his crew insist that they were robbed at gunpoint in a ridiculous extortion by the security guards.

There are lots of hot takes going around. Here are a few of my favorites, from journalists:

Ryan Lochte is everything the world hates about Americans? That, if you don’t believe Lochte’s crew, we get in fights with toilets and then try to blame other people? Perhaps. But what about this one:

I’m pretty sure that super-hot take is everything the world hates about American media! Speaking of how awful our media are, if you’re looking for a microcosm of our media’s inability to cover the 2016 election with any sobriety or good judgement, this’ll do:

If you didn’t want this story about a famous partier getting famously drunk and then lying about it to have a racial angle, how about this one:

Incidently, if you like the lawmaker-lobbyist revolving door operation, you’ll love the public relations-media revolving door. Kate Nocera recently left Planned Parenthood’s high-powered public relations firm SKDKnickerbocker to return to Planned Parenthood’s lesser public relations firm, BuzzFeed. Such a cozy relationship we all have.

In any case, the notion that a female Olympian would not lie about a violent act is utterly fascinating. I’ll assume that Nocera was not alive or cognizant in 1994, when Tonya Harding’s crew paid a dude to violently attack her competitor Nancy Kerrigan at the 1994 U.S. Figure Skating Championships so that she would be unable to compete at the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer. So yeah, I and all other people who know women understand that we are sinful and capable of lying just as men are. It’s not called men’s nature, but human nature. We all have it.

Or what about this tweet that went viral as a supposedly witty take on how inconsequential false rape claims are:

Except that we should never “just” believe anybody’s claims about anyone else, without requiring substantiation. So it’s a good point about how claims of assault and violence should not be believed sans evidence. (Is this a good time to mention that Hillary Clinton, known for disparaging her husband’s many accusers of sexual assault, recently removed from her website the “promise to ‘believe’ all sexual assault survivors after return of allegations that Bill Clinton raped Juanita Broaddrick and Hillary threatened her to keep quiet.”)

What if the moral of the Ryan Lochte story is not something about the need to put women on a pedestal, or see every story through the angle of white privilege, or how all educated people understand that it’s the U.S., man, that’s really evil. What if it’s something else entirely:

YEP. That’s it. See, the whole drama started, apparently, when Ryan Lochte lied to his mother about what happened to his watch (I think the commode might have won it during the wrasslin’). And then, like all good mothers who like to talk about their sons, she told international television about it.

I’ve used the Olympics to explain all sorts of things to my young children, from the evils of Communism to the dangers of Russian nationalism. I’ve even tried to subtly suggest that Canadians aren’t the friendly neighbors they present as, a task made much more difficult by the fact that one of their godparents is Canadian. I’ve taught them to cheer for all United States athletes, no matter how unAmerican the sport they’re competing in might be. This includes soccer — that’s the extreme I take it to. We’ve also gotten a chance to talk about hard work, the awesomeness of female athletes who compete after birthing babies, and other tangential issues.

They were confused about the Lochte story. I sat the children down and explained that the moral of the story was to never lie to your mother. She will find out. And in the end, you could face three years in a Brazilian prison.

I’m a grown woman and my own mother and I talked about Lochte and she said that was the big takeaway, too. She also noted that if Lochte had just copped to getting into a drunken brawl with a bathroom stall, everyone would have laughed and said, “That’s our Lochte!” And yet because he lied to his mother, he not only won’t get away with the property damage and destruction he may have caused (yay! Justice may or may not be served!), he will likely face other consequences.

The loss of endorsement income or possible stint in the Brazilian hoosegow shouldn’t make him feel as bad as the disappointment he has caused his mother to feel.