Rhetorical Analysis of Usain Bolt’s Critics

Austin Brown

Article 1: https://genius.com/Christine-brennan-dont-feel-sorry-that-usain-bolt-is-losing-an-olympic-gold-medal-annotated

Article 2: https://genius.com/Steven-porter-usain-bolt-loses-gold-medal-8-years-after-his-win-how-common-is-that-annotated


According to Aristotle, “Rhetoric is the capacity to theorize at any given moment the availability means of persuasion.” My topic for this class is performance enhancing drug use b professional athletes. For this assignment, my first article focuses on the recent Olympic scandal that is the drug use of Naste Carter, a teammate of Usain Bolt on the 2008 Jamaican 4×1 Gold Medal Team at the Beijing Olympic Games. The failed drug test is causing the whole team to lose their gold medals from that event, thus rendering obsolete Bolt’s magnificent feat of winning three sprinting gold medals at three consecutive Olympics. It is called “Don’t feel sorry that Usain Bolt is losing an Olympic gold medal”, I found it on the USA Today website and it is by Christine Brennan. The article claims that we shouldn’t feel sorry for Bolt because “Bolt knew carter was cheating.”


The author’s main rhetoric technique is the use of pathos, she attempts to appeal to the reader’s emotions to get them on her side. She starts her argument by explaining how PEDs have “ravaged” the Olympic Games and how it irks the athletes who are competing clean and must compete against the athletes who are not clean and the teammates of those athletes know who is using and who isn’t. Which is why people should not sympathize with Bolt. This she uses as a type of “appetizer,” warming up the reader’s feelings before she presents the reader with the hard stuff. Next, she says that the rightful place the reader should place their sympathy is on the silver medalists, Trinidad and Tobago, bronze medalists, Japan, and the fourth-place team, Brazil. In other words, the teams finishing behind the “cheating” Jamaicans.  The teams that, according to the author, were cheated out of their rightful medal, or a medal at all. She appeals to the emotions here by talking about how all the years of hard work and dedication put in by the teams that finished behind Jamaica, were all cheated out their rightful place on the podium. How all those years of work were wasted, working so hard to get that gold medal when a team that cheated obtained that gold. She then brings in the “knockout punch” to the emotions and ties her pathos rhetoric all together when she talks about how an Olympic Medal Ceremony is the “peak of a young athlete’s life” and how the T&T islands and Japan weren’t in their rightful place during it, and how Brazil just missed out on their place on the podium. How the Brazilians were “left on the sideline to watch a ceremony they should have been in”, and how they never got to “watch their flags be raised in the bird’s nest, to swell with pride in front of thousands with a medal around their neck.” How instead of swelling with pride in front of thousands, the Brazilians will receive their medals in a package. “Years of work for a package.” “They may be alone, or with a friend/family member” but instead of the public joy felt while on the podium, the Brazilians will feel a private exhilaration which is nowhere close to the latter. Her use of words here connects the heart of the reader to the athletes of the teams that she says were cheated. Her words especially influence athletes.


 The one problem with authors who try to appeal to the pathos is that they forget that logos must come beside pathos. One can’t appeal to emotions without doing it logically. If it isn’t logically driven home, then it doesn’t have the effect it’s supposed to have. This author does a great job of driving the thought of PEDs being a cancer home logically through using the concepts of competition and wrongfully missing out. Because everybody can understand the feeling of being left out, and being cheated and she put it in such a way that the reader was really able to put themselves in the shoes of the athletes who are clean and have a firsthand look at this situation. This allows the pathos to be drilled into the reader’s heart and will naturally help them align with the author’s ideas. 


 Early in the article, the author explains that the reason we shouldn’t feel sorry for bolt is because she claims that Bolt knew about Carter’s drug use and didn’t say anything about it. She then says that the real athletes will tattle on their teammate, as if it was out of the spirit of competition. To make this claim, she is assuming that Bolt knew about the drug use, which likely he did not. This is a common fallacy called an appeal to ignorance. This fallacy is considered the “filling gaps” fallacy, and right here the author fills a gap. The author doesn’t know if Bolt knew about Carter’s drug use, but she assumed he did anyways to fill the gap and help get her point across that PED use is out of control. The fact that she makes this claim makes her argument invalid. If she didn’t come back and hit with the pathos logic about the Brazilian team, I wouldn’t have had that thought at the end of the article that said “hmm, she may have a point here.” Fallacies can take the validity out of any article, no matter the point being made. For this article, I put it into snopes.com and the article was not fake or from a fake news source.


 In the second article from the Christian Science MonitorI choose to represent the use of different rhetoric strategies. The article is called “Usain Bolt loses gold medal 8 years after his win. How common is that?” and is by Steven Porter. The article is centered around Naste Carter’s doping scandal and Bolt losing his gold medal, but the article mentions several points in which he uses Logos rhetoric to try and get the reader onto his side. Unlike the first article. It starts in the title of the article, the second and last sentence in the title reads “… How common is that?” By putting this into the title he implies that doping in the Olympics is very common, and the reader is already having thoughts of if doping is bad or not right when they read the title. Using logos to highlight an underlying point in the article that a lot of athletes dope. He then explains in the article that over 100 Olympic athletes have tested positive in re-tests from the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, this supports the implied claim he made in the title. Later on in the article he hits the reader with some quotes that talk about how illegal doping “damages the concept of fair play that beats in the hearts of any sports competition,” and that “unless it is curtailed” it will make a mockery of the Olympic games. This is a great example of logos because it gives the reader the logical thought that super athletes, who came about through doping,  ruin competition. It’s a great example of logos because the reader, no matter where they stand on steroid use in athletes, will agree with his logic.


               The article isn’t scotch free of errors though, at the end of the article he uses the Hitler Fallacy, which is taking something that is like a scape goat for people and saying well, they did it too so its bad. At the end he talks the Russians using “government backed” doping and how this is wrong. Now he didn’t necessarily use the name Hitler, but he did use the one country that America has a unspeakable beef with. When a person reads this they see the author claim that Russia was doing this and they think “Man, why would Russia do such a thing. They would be the country to do such an unmoral thing.” The author uses Russia as a scape goat.


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