First of all, I will preface this post by saying I know my opinion is biased. I have a much larger personal stake in these Olympics than the average person and I am sure that influences my opinion. But I believe that bias to be an important one and a point of view that definitely needs to be taken into consideration by all those who are so quick to call for a boycott. I am not in any way trying to diminish the atrocities that are taking place. They are horrific. When I read and hear about them I am just as angry as the next person and yes, I hope something is done to change it. But supporting the Olympics is not the same as supporting China’s actions. Why? The Olympics is not some grand event specifically for the Chinese people or their government. It is for all of us. The Olympics are bigger than China. And what they stand for, what there purpose is, should not be forgotten.
Think for a second on what the Olympics mean to the athletes that have the honor of participating. It is a lifelong dream come true. It is an honor higher than any other. It is the pinnacle of a career. And for most, it is a once in a lifetime opportunity. As athletes, we did not choose China. What we chose is hard work. Sacrifice. Dedication. Commitment. Perseverance. All to have the chance to be able to represent ourselves and our country at the Olympic games. So try to understand our frustration at those so quick to dismiss what this might mean to us. Most Americans are giving up their opportunity to tune in to NBC and watch the games. No Dream Team to cheer on, no 100 meter final to anticipate, no new America’s sweetheart from gymnastics. Yes, that’s all very unfortunate, but none of that is a personal sacrifice.
What it is is a statement made on behalf of our country that will make no difference to the actual problem we are making a statement about, through a medium that has no business being the vehicle for the message in the first place. We are athletes, not politicians. Yes, I have an opinion on things that are happening around the world, and a heart that feels for the people affected. But if people came to you and said that YOU are unable to do your job or continue with the one thing YOU are most passionate about because WE are trying to get China’s attention and even though it won’t change their behavior, at least it’s a good faith effort, you might be a little put off as well. And mind you, I am only speaking for myself but I have a sneaking suspicion I am not the only one who feels this way.
That’s not to say as athletes we are incapable of taking a stand or showing our dissent. I cannot think of a more compelling and powerful image than that of two men raising their fists in protest on the Olympic podium. I value that statement and I appreciate the courage it took to make it. Or the statement Jesse Owens was able to make in regards to Hitler’s theory on white supremacy. They used their platform as athletes on the biggest stage possible. But they made a choice and they were still athletes first.
If the President wants to boycott the opening ceremonies, that’s his choice. And if others would like to boycott in their own way, they should do that. If you don’t feel it’s right to tune in, don’t. Don’t buy products from the companies that are sponsoring the Olympics. Get rid of all your “made in china” possessions. But it is my belief that the Olympics should not be about politics, it should transcend them. I think we should let the spirit of the games be. I would like to have this opportunity that only presents itself once every four years to celebrate and appreciate what the Olympics really stand for. Oh yea…and compete.
Debate: I made this a debate post specifically because I want to hear opinions from all sides of the issue. I truly respect all opinions on this and I just hope that those that differ from my own can at least somewhat understand where I am coming from. You can also just choose to "silently" debate and just vote in the top right hand corner.