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Al Trautwig, the veteran sports announcer whose cameo in the hit Disney bobsledding film Cool Runnings (1993) is likely the most impressive achievement to any millennial reading this, is having a very bad Olympics.
To be fair, Trautwig—whose name, let’s be honest, sounds more like a Pokémon than a person—struggles even with his routine job of NHL and NBA analysis, like when he actually called up the elderly parents of a troll who called him a “moron” on Twitter after taking the time to track down their phone number. But something as big as the Olympics provides a lot more exposure, room for cringeworthy mistakes, and, well, engagement.
Perhaps it’s the pressure of being a semi-known, verified TV personality on Twitter with 20K followers that prompts Trautwig to lash out at virtually anyone who takes the time to impugn his work. In any case, this behavior culminated on Sunday night when he absurdly refused to characterize U.S. gymnast Simone Biles’ adoptive parents (her maternal grandfather and his wife) as, you know, her parents. Viewers were less than happy.
That deletion proves Trautwig has at least some sense of self-preservation, but the rest of his timeline over the past week is an incredible journey from the cheerful arrival in Rio to sparring with any and every Olympics viewer with an off-the-cuff remark about his talents or demeanor.
Hot damn, this is a man who 1) writes “FUBAT” instead of “FUBAR” and 2) has no problem telling his critics they should be dead. What will he do next? Because the burns are coming faster than he can possibly reply.
The greatest Olympic mystery: How can Al Trautwig still know so little about gymnastics after covering it for 16 years?
— Courtney (@CourtneyDMuell) August 8, 2016
God Al Trautwig is such a piece of shit
— Molly (@MollyRitaShuff) August 8, 2016
Petition to punch Al Trautwig in the balls every time he speaks
— laura eliza (@lauraelizaa_) August 8, 2016
Savage. Still, it’ll all blow over soon enough, and then Al can get back to figuring out how to upload the photos he’s talking about in his tweets.
Olympic history quiz. Who is that On the right in that picture?
— Al Trautwig (@AlTrautwig) August 4, 2016
Keep reaching for that gold.
Update Aug. 9, 10:59am CT: Under fire for his comments about Biles’ parents, Trautwig issued an apology. Per the Wall Street Journal:
“I regret that I wasn’t more clear in my wording on the air,” he said in the statement. “I compounded the error on Twitter, which I quickly corrected. To set the record straight, Ron and Nellie are Simone’s parents.”
Good. Now that that’s cleared up, he can get back to his regularly scheduled beefs.
Miles Klee is a novelist and web culture reporter. The former editor of the Daily Dot’s Unclick section, Klee’s essays, satire, and fiction have appeared in Lapham’s Quarterly, Vanity Fair, 3:AM, Salon, the Awl, the New York Observer, the Millions, and the Village Voice. He's the author of two odd books of fiction, 'Ivyland' and 'True False.'