Entertainment

Protestors during Ryan Lochte's 'Dancing With the Stars' debut; learning from mistakes

Posted September 15

Olympic athlete Ryan Lochte made his “Dancing With the Stars” debut Monday night with dancing pro Cheryl Burke, and there were several protests at his presence.

After delivering a decent Foxtrot, judge Carrie Ann Inaba began her remarks. Halfway through her comments, she began yelling, “Excuse me! Excuse me!” and there was a blur of security men running on the stage at which point host Tom Bergeron quickly cut to commercial.

Later, footage was released of two men running on the dance floor with anti-Lochte shirts on screaming, “You’re a liar!” “Dancing With the Stars” security was quick to react and arrested the men for trespassing.

“What does that kind of strong reaction make you feel like?” a shocked Bergeron asked Lochte after they came back from commercial break.

“So many feelings are going through my head right now,” Lochte said. “A little hurt. I came out here, and I wanted to do something that I’m completely not comfortable with, and I did,” to which the audience responded with a supportive round of applause.

In a package before the dance, Lochte said he was afraid of failure.

“My biggest regret is letting other people down," he said during the package. "And now I want to prove to the world that I’ve changed. This is my second chance, and I don’t want to blow it.”

“To be clear, we are here to judge only your ballroom dancing,” Inaba reassured.

“This show is about second chances,” Bergeron said.

During the commercial break, a group of women sitting in the back of the audience also displayed anti-Lochte shirts and began chanting and jeering at Lochte, at which point dance pro Derek Hough rushed over and told them to “get out.”

"This is my home, and I was just so shocked that people would come here and be so negative," Hough told People magazine. "This is a safe place for people to learn a new skill and seek redemption or start a new chapter in their life and that's what Ryan is trying to do, and I just felt so defensive that someone would try and ruin that for him and for everyone watching, so I took it upon myself to make sure they were escorted out. I wanted to protect my home."

The women left the studio.

“This is a good show — a positive show,” Hough said as they walked out.

Although Lochte is one of most decorated male Olympic swimmers in history with six gold medals, his reckless behavior in Rio de Janeiro has overshadowed his hard-earned accomplishments, and I think that is mighty unfortunate.

I have made plenty of dumb decisions throughout my life that I deeply regret, that have hurt others and that I have hoped with all my heart I could move past. It does no good to dwell on mistakes. It does plenty of good to learn from the mistakes that will always and inevitably and frequently happen, and then strive to become better and stronger and wiser, with the key being to move on and never repeat them. I am so tired of people accusing and condemning others as if they are perfect with no dark marks on their life. It’s just not so.

Let me be clear because I have a feeling there may be quite a few comments about this situation: I don’t think Lochte should be given a free pass for his actions in Rio. I don’t think he made a smart decision, and I absolutely don’t think he should have lied. Neither does he. He’s suffered a lot of hatred and cruelty because of it. It’s hard to come back from such a public failure. Let’s let him move past his past. Let’s help him become better. Let’s root for each other.

How? Maybe swallowing the bitter taste you may have had in your mouth for Lochte and calling in a few votes for someone who is putting himself out there, still willing to take the flak and cruelty, for that second chance.

I think he deserves it. I think we all deserve it.

Carmen Rasmusen Herbert is a former "American Idol" contestant who writes about entertainment and family for the Deseret News. Her email is carmen.r.herbert@gmail.com.

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