By Christopher Harper
For years, like many other Americans, I enjoyed the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat at the Olympics.
This year, like many other Americans, I have made it a point NOT to watch any of the Olympics.
Although politics has played a role in many Olympics, particularly the Cold War competition between the United States and the Soviet Union, the antics of this year’s athletes have been over the top.
At its opening match with Sweden, the U.S. women’s soccer team knelt in protest. Not only was I happy the team lost to Sweden but ultimately got knocked off its perch by losing to Canada. I hope Subway passes on Megan Rapinoe in its next round of commercials.
American shot-putter Raven Saunders stepped off the podium during the medal ceremony, lifted her arms above her head, and formed an “X’ with her wrists.
“It’s the intersection of where all people who are oppressed meet,” she said when asked what her protest meant. It’s a rather mediocre protest when you have to explain the meaning!
Moments after Saunders’s protest, American fencer Race Imboden had a circled “X” written on his hand as he went to the podium at a different venue after the U.S. men’s foil team earned a bronze medal. That protest came after his teammates wore pink masks to embarrass a colleague accused of sexual harassment. The teammate hasn’t been formally charged and was cleared by authorities to compete in the Olympics.
I guess the notion of innocent until proven guilty doesn’t have any meaning when you’re planning protests!
I marvel at the abilities of athletes and how they do something few can. I couldn’t care less about what they think about the state of the world unless they have some overarching knowledge of international and national events.
These political statements turn me off, and it’s readily apparent that others think the same as I do. People aren’t tuning out because of time differences and multiple delivery platforms. People are turning out because Olympians should be proud to represent the United States—not preach to others about political matters they know little about.
I hope that Olympic ruling body stands by its intention to punish those who protest. But that’s likely to generate yet another protest. It’s best to convince NBC, which is likely to lose a lot of money from the poor viewership, that few people really care about the Olympics, particularly because of the growing number of protests.