Lolo Jones taken to task by New York Times writer

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A New York Times writer has a problem with all the media attention Lolo Jones has been receiving. So, naturally, he wrote a story about it.

Jeré Longman, who to his credit has written several renowned sports novels, stages an impassioned but ultimately inconsequential argument against Jones's marketing of herself.

"Jones has received far greater publicity than any other American track and field athlete competing in the London Games," Longman writes. "This was based not on achievement but on her exotic beauty and on a sad and cynical marketing campaign. Essentially, Jones has decided she will be whatever anyone wants her to be — vixen, virgin, victim — to draw attention to herself and the many products she endorses."

Other Internet sites have lashed back at Longman and his piece. They argue that Jones is only doing something that plenty of other athletes do — maximizing her marketability while she can — and they take issue with Longman's rather hostile accusation that Jones is playing up her well-documented rough upbringing in the process.

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Longman goes on to pick other low-hanging fruit, such as the notion that Jones's approach is retrograde in the feminist movement, and he even enlists a University of Western Ontario professor to invoke the dreaded Anna Kournikova comparison.

Only Jones has been more successful in her sport than Kournikova. She's a two-time indoor world champion in the 60-meter hurdles, and she was on her way to a comfortable gold medal in the 100 hurdles in Beijing when she clipped the second-to-last hurdle of the race, something that by her own admission happens only "about twice a year."

The whole lack-of-success argument falls apart when you consider the nature of track and field, too. A total of 50 women will compete in the 100 hurdles in London, and while Jones isn't a favorite, she's at least expected to be a finalist. In other words, if there's one winner in the event, does that mean there are 49 losers?

But maybe Longman's right about Jones marketing herself. I mean, I can't think of any other female Olympian who's done that, too.

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