Once upon a time it was considered low-class for athletes to be so smug and self-adoring. Winners of championships and gold medals were expected to be gracious, to show a little modesty — to enjoy the acclaim their splendid achievements had earned, without becoming boastful jerks in the process. But nowadays, as viewers of the London Olympics were repeatedly reminded, gifted athletes who are full of themselves not only pay no penalty, they are showered with attention and air time.
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