No, [Insert Athlete Here], You Can't Act

The other day on the news, I heard that Ryan Lochte—you know, dopey, disgraced Ryan Lochte—wants to be…get ready for it…an ACTOR! How Hollywood managed to thrive without him gracing the silver screen is absolutely beyond me. 

Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. 

I’ve heard this story a countless number of times. Athletes who, for one way or another are now ‘former’ athletes, step their toe into the acting world and declare that is what they wanted to do all along. 

“I’m now an Olympic Gold Medalist in Gymnastics! I wanna be an actress now!” 

Can you image if it were the other way around? Meryl Streep gets up on the Oscar stage accepting her millionth statue, and instead of thanking her agent and manager she simply says, “Well, now that I have another one of these, I want to be an Olympic Gymnast!” That would be weird, right? And a bit insulting to gymnasts?

Look, I get it, acting is fun, and the idea of being a ‘celebrity’, I’m sure, is appealing to people who want to remain in the spotlight—like retired athletes. But to be a good actor is not so easy. I’m not saying it’s more difficult than swimming a butterfly or performing a perfect vault, but you can’t just walk on set or stage and expect magic to happen. 

I’m not going to be all high and mighty and ignore the fact that Space Jam is one of my favorite childhood movies. Hell, Lola Bunny is my go-to Halloween costume! But Michael Jordan didn’t say he wanted to be an actor, he was just asked to do it. He did try to make the switch to baseball, though, and look how well that worked out!

Can people be multi-talented? Absolutely! But for anyone who has read Outliers, you know the 10,000 hour rule. It takes ten thousand hours to be a master at anything. Professional athletes are professional athletes because they’ve achieved those ten thousand hours; they started when they were young! Just like the best actors out there have worked on their craft for the same amount of time. It’s difficult to jump ships without the practice. 

The sad thing is, people will buy it. People will watch Ryan Lochte on TV because he’s marketable, because he’s already famous and has a following, regardless of talent. 

But let’s be real here, he was hardly convincing as the victim of a robbery in Rio…I’m not sure acting is really his calling..

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