Power Plays: Politics, Football, and Other Blood Sports

By John M. Barry | Go to book overview

RENALDO NEHEMIAH

Renaldo Nehemiah is simply the best there is and the best there ever was. In the world of track and field he is king. Emperor. At the pinnacle of all amateur sport. No one else has ever set such a run of world records—five times in five months he has set new world records.

“I’m doing things no one has ever done,” he says. “No one else has come close. I’m the first person to do unheard-of feats more or less consecutively.”

He is nineteen years old.

His sport is not gymnastics, where bodyweight-to-strength ratios make the triumph of teenage girls not only possible but likely, or even swimming, where twenty-three-year-old athletes are long past their prime. He is a hurdler, a sport in which athletes usually peak in their late twenties. Confronting hurdle after hurdle, each one 3’6” high, at full speed requires fearlessness, which is a function of character and not age. (To the extent it does depend on age, youth’s sense of invulnerability gives him an advantage in this area, too.) But success requires also speed, power, technique, and the maturity to wage psychological warfare against rivals. Those are all things that usually reach their peak only with years of work and experience.

What makes him phenomenal, however, is not his talent and work ethic, but his ego—ego in the large sense.

It is not that he is one of those spoiled athletes who respect no one else, who believe they can get away with anything, who behave as if the rest of the world exists to fulfill their needs. Far from it. Yet his ego informs and controls everything he does.

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Power Plays: Politics, Football, and Other Blood Sports
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Home 1
  • Flexible Blocking Patterns 3
  • Jimmy 11
  • Washington the Players 19
  • The Making of a Politician I 21
  • The Making of a Politican II 35
  • The Media 45
  • Game’s over 55
  • It’s All a Part of the Game 57
  • No More Play 65
  • Regrets 80
  • Washington Wright’s Play 83
  • The Floor 85
  • Peace 93
  • The Vote 99
  • Washington Gingrich’s Play 131
  • The outside Game 133
  • The Olympians 151
  • Renaldo Nehemiah 153
  • Linda Dragan 158
  • Michael Storm 163
  • Mark Cameron 168
  • Postscript 175
  • The Fall 177
  • The Trial 179
  • Epilogue 203
  • Index 211
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