#FreeGunnarBentz and the Sad Mess in Brazil

Gold Medalist and UGA Student-Athlete Gunnar Bentz is being held captive in Rio de Janeiro in the wake of a robbery.

Gold medalist swimmer and UGA student-athlete, Gunnar Bentz, was detained at the Rio de Janeiro Airport.  Bentz along with fellow Gold medalist Team USA swimmer and University of Texas student-athlete, Jack Conger, were unable to travel out of Brazil after their performances in the 2016 Olympic Games.  Bentz, Conger, Ryan Lochte and James Feigen were robbed very early Sunday morning by Police Officer impersonators and a Brazilian Judge is not buying any of it.

Feigen and Lochte made it back to the United States safely, but Conger and Bentz are now captives of a corrupt Brazilian state.  The claim of Lochte lying about the robbery does come across as dubious considering the source and the response of the Brazilian government draws more attention to the problems that exist in the country.  Keep in mind that in order for Lochte to have lied, the three other swimmers had to also be complicit in the same lie.  It had to be a conspiracy and a cover-up effort had to be maintained.

This is of course becoming gossip rag material and it all revolves around Lochte.  No consideration for the other three swimmers that were also robbed and the two swimmers (Bentz and Conger) that are still detained.

Theory #1:  Ryan Lochte was trying to sidestep an argument with his girlfriend, Kayla Rae Reid.

The problem with this theory is that this becomes a massive “bros before hos” act of solidarity so that one out of the four guys gets cover in an argument with his girlfriend.  The same girlfriend that Lochte claimed was not his.  Lochte even said that he was on Tinder on the Today Show.

Why would Lochte openly announce his singledom and the fact he uses Tinder if he was seeing someone?  Was Lochte holding out to swing for the fences in order to land the recently married, taller and stunning Brazilian Volleyball star, Thaisa Daher de Menezes?

Theory #2:  Was there an embellishment of the robbery?

First, the analysis of the story is interesting:  When the tales of fiction surrounding a rape case at the University of Virginia Phi Kappa Psi House published by Rolling Stone magazine and the fantastic lies told by Crystal Mangum and Mike Nifong took place, they were treated as events that unquestionably happened.

The media decides to question this case, why?  Isn’t this what they would call “victim blaming”?

Keep in mind, there were three others there and the most recognizable was Lochte with his platinum turned greenish colored hair.  What would Lochte have to gain from lying or embellishing the story?  He did not even say that a particular individual committed the crime nor did he press charges.  He just openly acknowledged the incident and told the story.

Theory #3:  It was a case of hookers and/or blow that went horribly wrong.

Why would Ryan Lochte not tell a tale of a bad drug deal or poorly executed effort at procuring a Brazilian prostitute?  Let’s also consider that cocaine is decriminalized in Brazil and prostitution is legal.  Were Lochte, Bentz, Conger and Feigen aware of this?  It’s possible.  All have competed internationally and could have known about the environment they were about to step into prior to getting there.

If Lochte had a drug deal go bad or had an epic failure in landing a prostitute, it would have put him into Charlie Sheen legendary status, but without being HIV-positive (at least we think).

Theory #4:  It was a cry for attention in the wake of Michael Phelps’ impressive Olympic accomplishments and Lochte’s comparatively disappointing run in Rio.

Why would Feigen, Conger and Bentz go along with the story and acknowledge that something had happened?  Why would any of the other three go through the trouble that they did to acknowledge it publicly?

Logically, it just does not make sense to call attention to oneself by making up a story about being robbed in Rio de Janeiro.  Being mugged in Rio de Janeiro is frighteningly routine and people do impersonate cab drivers and police quite frequently to kidnap and rob tourists.  It’s not just a joke from The Simpsons in the episode titled “Blame it on Lisa”.

There are other theories, but if there was a lie or embellishment about a crime that took place, no charges were pressed as the Brazilian authorities took action after the media reported the story.  Consider that Lochte and Feigen immediately returned back to the United States ready to move on from the happenings in Rio de Janeiro.

The problems in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and in the country are being completely whitewashed by NBC.  Brazil’s issues are more than just Zika.

The Favelas are not as lively and happy as the Opening Ceremonies present it to be.  After all, this is not anything like the Favelas (slums).

This is a better depiction of real life in the Favelas.

What the Olympics Opening Ceremony did would be the equivalent of taking Chicago’s well-deserved reputation for being dangerous and their loss of control over violent shootings and turn it into a colorful game of laser tag for all to see.

The following block in italics is based on anecdotal experiences:

(Personal note:  Yours truly has worked with a good number of privately-held small and medium-sized Brazilian companies.  There is no joy in the pains that the Brazilian people experience, the business community of São Paulo was most notably frustrated with the status quo.)

The overreaction by the Brazilian government in this case involving these four American swimmers is n some way consistent with a phenomenon that is evident when doing business with Brazil.  

Brazil is a country that is very self-aware, insecure and afraid that they are not ready for the global stage.  Ask an ordinary question to a small or medium-sized business about their business operations as a prospective client or current client and they immediately get worried.  These same questions are answered in detailed fashion by companies in Asia, Europe and North America.  From the prospective of a client, a good number of Brazilian businesses are scared of any judgment at all and prefer to ignore inquiries out of the hope that they will just go away. Discussions specifically regarding the security of data and client privacy are matters that many companies in Western civilization would pridefully be able to discuss with a client in a manner that does not require confidentiality.  This same conversation with a Brazilian based business just does not happen and the fear sets in, even if they had the right protocols.  Small and medium-sized Brazilian companies are not accustomed to international business and working with companies outside of Brazil or even South America.  These same insecurities are coming to light in this particular case as the Brazilian government is too afraid to answer for the rampant crime on a global stage.

Denying Brazil’s economic uncertainty, past defaults, Zika situation, rampant crime, corruption and political instability is irresponsible.  Tired of being kicked around, the Brazilian government fought back and questioned the story of an American athlete who is not a sympathetic character.  Brazil with a strange assist from American media, deflected the issues that plague their own country and decided to go out of their way to prove that Rio de Janeiro is a “safe place” to be.  However, Brazil’s effort to do this was in unfortunate, yet classic Brazilian fashion that reminds everyone that Brazil is not ready to lead South America in the 21st century.  The effort by the Brazilian authorities to show that one case of street crime did not happen, which is presumed to have the illogical basis of showing that Rio de Janeiro is safer than the world thinks is silly.  Notable Olympians claiming to be mugged at gunpoint is just another egg in the face for a country that has taken enough of a beating on a global stage.

Brazil’s decision to take away Gunnar Bentz and Jack Conger’s passports in response to the mere discussion of an event that may or may not happened is a gross overreaction that is emblematic of unstable and/or authoritarian regimes.  It does not reflect well on the Brazilian government to prevent Bentz and Conger from leaving Brazil and returning home to the United States.  All the Brazilian government is doing is drawing more attention to the controversy and fueling negative perceptions of the country, as if the corruption, Zika, crime and financial crises were enough to dissuade investors, tourists, immigrants and clientele.  The Brazilian Government needs to do the right thing:  Move on and…