RE: Amanda Beard’s Book

This isn’t a book report. I haven’t read the book and from the looks of things, no one has because it hasn’t been written yet. That won’t stop me from commenting on the subject matter though.

I saw the announcement today on ESPN.com, which can be found here. It didn’t surprise me, nor should it surprise anyone. Tell all memoirs are worth big bucks and Amanda is arguably the second most popular swimmer in the US. While a professional swimmer of Beard’s stature does make a quality income, her time to cash in is short. Therefore, my problem is not with the fact that she’s writing it, it’s of the reported content.

Andre Agassi captured headlines last year when he released his memoirs. He got the headlines not for the book itself as much as the fact that he named names, talked about drugs and made us feel bad for him, based on his childhood, all at once. Now Amanda Beard is set to do the same and  I just don’t care.

Yes, there are women out there struggling with the same ills that plagued Amanda, but does her book really help them? And is that why Amanda is writing it? I’ll answer the first question I raised: Maybe, but it shouldn’t. The light at the end of the tunnel for a drug addicted teen shouldn’t be “that girl who appeared in Playboy and I think swims or something”. Amanda shouldn’t get more credit for overcoming those issues than, say, Natalie Coughlin, who to my knowledge, has not had to overcome what started as bad life choices… yes, choices. If a young woman has those issues, there are any number of examples to look to and a number of resources they should contact. Amanda Beard shouldn’t be the reason they seek help, but if it is, then I guess this book is positive.

However, and this brings me to my second question, let’s not pretend for one second that’s the reason she’s writing the book. There are 2 things that drive 90% of the decisions made in the world: money and attention. Sometimes it’s both and I believe that’s the case we are dealing with here. She could write a book on her swimming career, including tales of her time off when she dealt with her demons, but that wouldn’t grab that headlines or move as much merchandise. I, for one, would actually be interested in that book, since her comeback was quite impressive. The general population, on the other hand, wants juicy details and to root for the comeback.

I guess I don’t blame Amanda. I don’t even blame the book publisher. It’s just a shame the American public needs this sort of subject matter to buy a book about a swimmer. If you really want a good swimming book that doesn’t pander to the general population to sell more copies, read Gold in the Water. You can thank me later.

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