Olympic decline

The 2020 in 2021 Olympics in Tokyo wrap up in a few days. The smallest TV audience in 33 years tuned in for the opening ceremony. That turned out to be a foreshadowing of things to come.

The once, ever-popular, must-watch Olympic Games nose-dived in the TV ratings—down over 50% from 2016. I am one of its causalities, and I’m not the only fan who has not reached for the TV remote.

In 1996, Michael Johnson took his victory lap with the stars and stripes draped around his shoulders. Euphoria spread across the country when a triumphant Flo-Jo waved the flag after becoming the fastest woman of all time. Jesse Owens, The Dream Team, Mary Lou Retton, Michael Phelps, and the 1980 gold medal U.S. Hockey team—all were proud to compete for their America and stand for the National Anthem.

Compare those heart-stopping moments to this Olympics. In Tokyo, the women’s soccer team knelt in protest of the very country they should be honored to represent, the country that supported their quest.

Meanwhile, Greg Popovich, the coach of our Olympic basketball team, insults America regularly. In his words, the American flag is “irrelevant.”

Gold-medal hopeful Simone Biles pulled what I call an “Osaka.” Naomi Osaka dropped out of the French Open and skipped Wimbledon with “mental health issues.” The stress of interviews was just too much. Yet, during Osaka’s hiatus, she launched a reality show, posed for Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue, and continued to endorse products to the tune of $55 million.

Biles, also citing mental health, abandoned her country and her team. I’m all for supporting those with any health issues, but Bile’s comments speak otherwise:

“I feel like I’m also just not having as much fun,” said Biles, “and this Olympic Games I wanted it to be for myself and it felt like I was still doing it for other people….”

Last I checked, the Olympics is all about doing what you love, not for yourself, but for your country.

Lolo Jones, a three-time Olympian said what a great many Americans feel: “I think sometimes people just want to tune in to watch sports, to just watch sports, and they’re not there for the political side of it.”

Fans watch sports for entertainment and the thrill of competition. 2020 was an upside-down year full of turmoil. People greeted the return of sporting events with sighs of relief. After all, sports would provide a mechanism of escape from what seemed like bad news wherever we turned.

Instead, athletes used their fields of play for stages upon which to disrespect this country and the citizens that glorify and overpay them. The “woke” movement blames the United States for the individual actions of a small percentage of people who happen to live here. America, our country, does not condone murder or racism nor any other crimes committed by individuals, but it is certainly getting the blame.

This year’s games are missing one key element—pride to compete for the red, white, and blue. Before anyone corrects me, I am well aware of the U.S. athletes in Tokyo who are honored to represent America.

To all of the proud American athletes like swimming phenom Lydia Jacoby, I apologize and applaud your success. But I won’t turn on my TV and bump advertising dollars in support of participants who kneel to disrespect my country. I will not cheer for those who turn their backs on the very flag that gives them the right to protest.

The Olympics is about honoring one’s country through competition. There are many Olympic hopefuls who would love the opportunity to wear red, white, and blue and compete to honor America. I’d rather see a patriot stand, fight, and lose than watch a traitor kneel and win.

Commentary Sports Shorts

VievesVine View All →

writer, blogger, columnist

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