Going into today's luge doubles competition (won, as expected, by the Germans) America's luge pairs were forced to react to a recent viral anti-discrimination ad from the Canadian Institute of Diversity and Inclusion, that actually didn't do much to help gay people or luge. Doubles luge is like regular luge, except two (usually) men ride the sled together, one laying down on top of the other. You can imagine the jokes.
Like the one made by the Canadian Institute, which used a clip of two lugers set to "Don't You Want Me?" along with the tagline: “The Games have always been a little gay. Let’s fight to keep it that way.” Obviously, this is a response to Russia's anti-gay laws, but America's doubles lugers thought it was just one more unnecessary joke at the expense of their noble sport.
“They’re making fun of our sport for their cause and it doesn’t really make a lot of sense to me,” Christian Niccum, a 36-year-old three time Olympian, told The New York Times. "This is sports. ... Why does it have to be like that?” He had stronger words when he spoke with Reuters on Monday. "It's a gross misrepresentation of everything. All of it seems like a lie to me," Niccum said. "To compare sports to sexuality is ridiculous," he said, adding:
"When we were kids I didn't get on the doubles sled thinking, well it never even crossed my mind, that 'oh, this is gay'. [...] "Kids don't think that way and now they're having commercials and promoting that this is the way sports are. I just think it's too bad.
"It made me really think when I was a kid. Those types of thoughts never crossed my mind and now they are promoting diversity using our sport. I don't think it's fair for people that do have same sex attraction that they are using sport to promote their lifestyle. It's not that way at all. To make those comparisons, I think it's sad."
The other American lugers, Niccum's second Jayson Terdiman, Preston Griffall and Matthew Mortensen were less upset about the gay agenda and pointed out that, for lugers, the jokes get old. “Between this kind of stuff and the ‘You’re such a luger,’ it’s pretty tired,” Terdiman told The Times. “To be honest, I’m not sure I’ve ever heard one.” To that point, we agree, the jokes aren't necessary or that funny. As doubles luge concluded, Twitter was full of inspired gems like:
I'm guessing you get to know each other pretty well during training for the doubles luge.— Andrew Morris (@andyjmorris) February 12, 2014
At what point in a luge career does one think "nah, I'd rather do this lying on top of someone else, or underneath them..." ? #lugedoubles— Dan Lobb (@danlobb) February 12, 2014
But while we'd agree that the 'luge is kinda gay, lol' jokes are immature and usually inappropriate, turning that frat boy humor on its head to promote a good cause is smart PR. Niccum took some time away from asking us to think of the children and completed his runs with sledmate Terdiman. The pair placed 11th, and teammates Griffall and Mortensen placed 14th.
Americans were never expected to medal in doubles. Favorites Tobias Arlt and Tobias Wendl from Germany won their country's third gold in luge this week:
Wolfgang and Andreas Linger, brothers from Austria, won silver and Andris and Juris Šics from Latvia won the silver. Germans also took gold in Men's and Women's Singles, so they are obviously the favorite for the new Team Relay competition on Thursday.