Not long before the Olympics started, I read somewhere that U.S. 100-meter hurdler Lolo Jones was still a virgin.

I surmised -- correctly, as it turned out -- that her virginity in a land that might be described as "Whoopee Nation" stemmed from some deep religious belief. It transpired that Jones is a devout Christian.

Now didn't you just know that, being a devout Christian and a virgin, the scurrilous media attack on Jones would happen sometime, somewhere? And you could almost predict which media outlet would launch the scurrilous bit of invective, couldn't you?

Enter Jere Longman, a sportswriter for the oh-you-so-guessed-it-right New York Times. On Aug. 4, two days before Jones was to compete in the women's 100-meter hurdles finals in the London Olympic games, Longman wrote what has since become an infamous attack on Jones.

After noting that Jones had little chance of winning a medal of any kind in her event, and none of winning gold, Longman opined, "Still, Jones has received far greater publicity than any other American track and field athlete competing in the London Games."

Jones' publicity, according to Longman, "was based not on achievement but on her exotic beauty and on a sad and cynical marketing campaign. Essentially, Jones has decided she will be whatever anyone wants her to be -- vixen, virgin, victim -- to draw attention to herself and the many products she endorses. ... [S]he has played into the persistent, demeaning notion that women are worthy as athletes only if they have sex appeal."

Longman no doubt thought himself the very clever writer by going with the "vixen-virgin-victim" alliteration, but he should have stopped at "vixen" and "victim." By including virgin, Longman revealed his real problem wasn't Jones' "play[ing] into the persistent, demeaning notion that women are worthy as athletes only if they have sex appeal," but with her virginity and her religion.

In fact, Longman revealed his true agenda in his very next paragraph. After noting that Jones posed nude for ESPN the Magazine and "appeared on the cover of Outside magazine, seeming to wear a bathing suit made of nothing but strategically placed ribbon," Longman felt compelled to add, "at the same time, she has proclaimed herself to be a 30-year-old virgin and a Christian. And oh, by the way, a big fan of Tim Tebow."

Can't you just detect the sneering contempt in Longman's final sentence? Being a 30-year-old virgin (how DARE she?!) and a Christian are Jones' REAL offenses, in Longman's mind. And being a big fan of Tebow, another devout Christian, is her greatest offense of all.

Many fans who read the column saw right through Longman's motives. So many saw through his motives that they complained Longman's column was much too harsh. And guess who agreed with them?

Art Brisbane, the public editor for the New York Times. Brisbane sent an email to those who objected to Longman's column.

"I think the writer was particularly harsh, even unnecessarily so," Brisbane said in his email. Brisbane also included a comment from the sports editor who approved of Longman's piece and got this response: "One person's harsh is another person's tough minded. [Longman] thinks this female athlete fell short."

You might now have learned why most sports fans don't consult the pages of the New York Times for their sports news. "Longman thinks this female athlete fell short."

THAT's the sports editor's justification for Longman attacking Jones' virginity, her devotion to her religion and her being a "big fan" of Tim Tebow? I repeat, Jones hadn't even competed in the women's 100-meter hurdles finals yet, so technically, she hadn't "fallen short" at the time Longman wrote his column.

"Remember when being a virgin and a devout Christian were good things?" an observer asked me about the Lolo Jones flap. They were at one time. But no longer. Not in Whoopee Nation.

Examiner Columnist Gregory Kane is a Pulitzer-nominated news and opinion journalist who has covered people and politics from Baltimore to the Sudan.