Ever since the news broke that Bruce Jenner was planning to “transition into a woman,” I’ve had a very difficult time getting my brain to really understand the situation.
Remember, in 1976, when Bruce Jenner won the decathlon at the Montreal Olympics, I was 13. He was “the greatest athlete in the world,” as decathlon gold medalists are often called. He was on the front of the Wheaties box. He was everywhere.
Sure, the time since his gold medal has been a long and winding road. And though I’ve never watched a second of that Kardashian show crap, I’ve heard enough about the train wreck he’s been living among over the past few years.
But this, transitioning to a woman, is just too much. If he came out as gay, I’d be less stressed. The idea that someone who succeeded so mightily as an athlete, who claimed a title held in such high regard by men, would somehow opt to become a woman, is just too strange for me.
What it does tell me is that success in athletics does not always come as a result of the kind of toughness that we normally assume a person must possess. Bruce Jenner worked hard and put in the hours of training in order to succeed. But his ability to focus on that victory did not cement in him a lifelong approach to life that we would have expected.