What is the matter with these people?

Suppose you are a top athlete who has just won a major international track event. A 14-year old girl in a mascot costume comes up and tries to give you a little gift bag. How should you respond? Here’s how French steeplechase winner Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad reacted.

Jonathan Turley says that this is not the first time he has shown such churlish behavior.

A teacher of mine back in the day said that it was incorrect to say that sports built character. What sports did was reveal a person’s character. It is how one reacts in the heat of the moment to unexpected situations, such as often occur in sports, that reveal what one is really like.

And what we learn about Mekhissi-Benabbad is that he is a world-class jerk.


  1. 'Tis Himself says

    If someone tries to give me a present I accept it and say “thank you.” Maybe that’s why I’m not a world-class steeplechase runner.

  2. marc says

    OTOH, I can see objecting to having one’s victory hijacked by a corporation. That wasn’t a gift, it was a marketing attempt to link the athlete’s performance with a product.

  3. Mano Singham says

    Maybe, but that hardly excuses such behavior. He could have just politely declined it.

  4. FredBloggs says

    Isn’t this assault? The stuff about her being a 14-year old girl is irrelevant, because, well, she’ wearing a mascots outfit.

  5. Trebuchet says

    Athletics builds character? As a nerd, I can honestly say the only character it built in the star athletes at the schools I attended was that of bullies.

  6. Emory K. says

    That was not a corporate mascot. It was “Appy” – the event mascot for the 2012 European Athletics Championships. Appy is much like the Olympic event mascots, such as “Wenlock” for the upcoming London games.

    I propose we replace the term “hissy fit” with “Mekhissi fit.”

  7. left0ver1under says

    I have no problem with players and security who nail “fans” that run onto the field. You pay to watch, not to participate, and trespassing on a playing field during an event is trespassing on private property.


    But the young girl in the costume was there with permission, doing what she was assigned to do, and standing still when she offered the item. If the runner didn’t want anything from her, he could have waved his hand “No” or turned away, and the girl would have understood. Or he could have told the event organizers not to do that if he won. What he did was inexcusable.

  8. Didevro says

    This is a nasty person. He deserves to be charged with assault and given a lifetime ban, nasty creature.

  9. Charles Sullivan says

    He knocked over a human-sized slice of bread. Like knocking over a Mascot at a college football game. What’s wrong? How would he know she’s a 14 year old girl, whether she’s whole wheat of a white slice?

  10. says

    An athlete pushing away an interfering Spongebob Squarepants corporate-sponsored mascot (who could have thought the latter was a 14 yo girl?) out of his way while trying to catch up his breath under respiratory distress is indeed unsportmanlike and unPC to say the least, but understandable. He deserves the naming and shaming for his rather juvenile overraction, though – and the event organizers should get a part of the blame for not training better the kids (??) they employ.

  11. had3 says

    So it’s acceptable to knock over adults in costume? When is it unacceptable, if ever, in your world?

  12. Mano Singham says

    Granted, he may not have known that it was a 14-year old girl, though given that it was the official mascot of the games, it was a familiar figure to all the athletes who had possibly seen it out of costume and maybe even talked to it.

    But even if it was a professional mascot at a US game and consisted of a 6ft 6in, 300 lb former linebacker for the NFL, it would still be wrong to slap away his gift and push him simply for offering him a bag. Respiratory distress is hardly an excuse for such behavior. We have to stop granting athletes this kind of license which only serves to encourage those who exhibit such hostile tendencies.

  13. says

    “That was not a corporate mascot. It was “Appy” – the event mascot for the 2012 European Athletics Championships. Appy is much like the Olympic event mascots, such as “Wenlock” for the upcoming London games.”

    In other words, it IS a corporate mascot. It is unlikely that he knew there was a 14 year old girl in the costume. Further, we have no idea what happened immediately before or after. Maybe this mascot got in the way during the race. What was the mascot handing him? We don’t know. I would reserve judgement until I knew. Potentially, this is very bad behavior but we really have insufficient data based on this very short clip.

  14. stonyground says

    Hopefully he can say goodbye to any lucrative advertising and sponsorship deals. Often atletes who have acted like jerks often have to humiliate themselves by reading out a carefully prepared statement about how contrite and sorry they are for this precise reason.

  15. says

    This! Totally 100% this!

    The “jocks” were always the worst bullies, knowing they’d get away with it because of their social standing – standing up to them, or trying to prevent yourself from being beaten, always got the victim in trouble – the administration were loathe to punish them lest the school not win some totally important sporting event and jeopardize their funding.

    If they did get punished because the administration had no choice, usually when the bullies took it just a bit too far, the victim got bullied by everyone for damaging the school’s reputation and putting the game at risk; woe on you if they actually lost.

    High School couldn’t have ended fast enough.

  16. TGAP Dad says

    I would LOVE to see a short, powerfully-built guy, maybe someone recruited from the MMA circuit, to don that costume, and respond in kind if he tries that stunt again. I know, I know… retribution is bad and all… An eye for an eye just makes the whole world blind, etc. But sometimes an a**hole just needs to be wiped hard!

  17. Patrik Roslund says

    I’m sorry i laughed so hard. It was such a asshole move that i spilled my drink all over my desk.

    That being said, what an asshole! Yeah yeah corporate mascot cheapening the victory or whatever you still need to act like a civilized person.

  18. Paulino says

    Hahah I’d love to see him do that with a 300 lb NFL linebacker!

    Perhaps hiring recently retired 300 lb linebackers would be a wonderful way to inhibit such stupid behavior, as it seems hard to expect decent behavior from a sizable part of humanity.

  19. says

    Until Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbadever gets his “chance” to get slapped by a girl or, even better, by a 300lbs former linebacker, I suggest we petition the French Athletics Association (http://www.facebook.com/FFAthletisme , 33 avenue Pierre de Coubertin – 75640 Paris Cedex 13, Tel: 01 53 80 70 00 – Fax: 01 45 81 44 66, email: ffa@athle.org), the European Athletics Association (http://www.european-athletics.org/about-us/head-office.html http://www.facebook.com/pages/European-Athletics/208150086180 http://www.twitter.com/EuroAthletics), the https://www.facebook.com/pages/CNOSF-Comit%C3%A9-National-Olympique-et-Sportif-Fran%C3%A7ais/175547912495560 and the French Olympic Committee (cnosf@cnosf.org) for fining and suspending again (including a ban from the 2012 olympics) an athlete who not only recently slapped Appy, but had previously been suspended for pushing a kneeled mascot, Berni (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S1GWS4Yq5Kc&t=1m20s) to the ground and for getting into a fight with fellow French runner Mehdi Baala at the finish line of the 1500m race during the Monaco Diamond League games (http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=eeb_1341337997). Sample letters: http://www.nzrun.com/topic/13025-Ban-Mahiedine-Mekhissi-Benabbad-from-the-2012-Olympic-Games

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