Monday, April 14, 2008

Olympic Boycott: A Debate

Whether or not there will be a boycott isn’t really the issue. There won’t be. Not that the President himself has called me up and let me know this, but I will still go out on a limb and say so. The issue is should there be. It seems like everyone has an opinion. Well here’s mine.

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.


eclectik said...

This HAS to be different than the Moscow Olympics...that didn't work/help anything.

The Games are Sport...not Politics
When people bring Politics and/or Religion into places where it doesn't belong i always leads to disaster.

A boycott would not help a single person or cause

I think people belittle or under estimate the power of Olympic Spirit and what bringing people together can do

It makes little to no sense if a small number of countries boycott...if people want to make a real difference EVERYONE should boycott and that aint gonna happen

Still...unfair to the atheletes that's trained forever to get there and compete (And unfair to me the guy that likes to oogle)

If Some atheletes...officals/Dignitaries etc wants to boycott the opening ceremony...cooooool, great.

The actual ceremonies? Dumb.
...and More medals for China.

The illest thing is, we knew China wasn't worth a damn thing when they gave them the games years ago...

Let's say the Olympics were in the US this year.
How would we react to threats of a boycott to the ceremony or even the whole games as a protest against our war crimes?

anonymousnupe said...

If there were no real sacrifice involved then what would be the point of a boycott? Nothing. I would personally like to think that if I were an Olympic-caliber athlete I would have purposely tried my best to make the team but let everybody know that I fully intended to boycott the actual games, for two reasons: 1. China's human rights record, and 2. I would not subject myself to training or competing over that long a period in air comparable to that around ground zero in NY. (I exaggerate, but not much.) Just wouldn't do it, I'd like to think.

And when it comes to taking a stand, I typically don't play. I don't care if it does negatively impact my career. (In the long run God’s got me.) If my actions signal condonation of the murder, kidnapping, and oppression of people too downtrodden to help themselves, then I just would not, could not knowingly participate. I think some Olympic athlete is going to have the temerity to actually make such a stand. I wonder who it will be. Who’s going to be the one to send a message? I'm waiting to applaud and hail that brave individual.

I believe that you just can't compartmentalize who you are and what you stand for. It's like the whole separation of church and state argument. It's hogwash. If you're a Christian then everything you say or do will (or should) be governed by your beliefs. You don’t have to declare your motivations all the time, but your actions should reflect them. I don't think you can separate your politics from the rest of your being either.

Yes, all this is easy for me to say 'cause I'm not in your position. But I've read about enough difference makers in life to know that it doesn't do much good simply to get mad about an issue. What do you do about it, especially if you're a highly-visible, influential persona? That’s what matters. Do you don black gloves on the awards podium and raise them in protest?

I'm not necessarily saying a boycott is the answer, but I am saying to the U.S. and its athletes, do somethin'! Take some kind of stand. (Given the human rights issues and the environmental concerns, China should have never been awarded the games in the first place.) It's naive to think that China isn't going to benefit greatly financially from hosting the Olympics, and then its attitude will be, "Heck, why do we need to change our ways? They still trade with us. They still give us Olympics. Forget the monks. The world doesn't care as long as the money is flowing. Crush Tibet!" It reminds me of a Hampton Homecoming dance I attended at a hotel down there. It was organized by a group of graduates who called themselves “Forever Friends.” They oversold the event by about 200 people, and the fire marshal showed up about 2 hours into the event and shut it down. I think we paid around $15.00 or $20.00 to get in, which was not refunded. I found out years later that the organizers knew the fire marshal was on the way so they secreted off to their suites upstairs where they partied privately and laughed about the whole thing and how much money they had made. Needless to say, they continued to throw bashes during subsequent homecomings, suffering no repercussions whatsoever. (If you don’t count the couple of ass whippin’s a couple of the more insouciant “Friends” ended up enduring.)

That’s gonna be China after the games.

Brianna said...

@eclectik...we know you need the olympics to happen, how else would update your picture collection??? :)

@nupe...thank you for your comment. you do make some very valid points. i'm not saying that a boycott should not involve sacrifice. i think what i am mostly trying to say is that i don't believe this is the "right" sacrifice, nor do I believe it's right to force others to make a sacrifice based on other's beliefs that that is the direction we should go. because in all honesty, WE are the ones sacrificing, not YOU. what have you given up? and it is very tough to say that you could and would do this or that if you were in our position. I honestly don't know what to compare it to because I really don't believe that there is too much that would be similiar.

I don't think that most athletes (because I believe most are not in favor of a boycott) are heartless, insensitive, selfish people who are incapabale and unwilling to stand for what they believe in. But why can't the games be first and foremost about competition and the true Olympic spirit, at least for us?

anonymousnupe said...

Right, so then as I ask, what will you do, then? What is the right sacrifice, if not this? How many opportunities will you, the other athletes, the U.S., get to make such an impact on China and world history? How many of these opportunities will we squander? What would Martin Luther King do? What would Jesus do? Hmm…..

I’m curious: Are there any Olympic athletes who think the U.S. should boycott the games this year? Or are those few voices drowned out by the din of me-first prima donnas (present company excluded, of course)?

Now, see, if the U.S. was really 'bout it 'bout it it would lobby like-minded nations to come up with a way to make a statement and bring about real change in China. But the U.S. is just frontin'. We don't want to mess up our trade and arms sales. Oh no. Why didn’t the U.S. get together with Germany, the UK, Japan even, Australia, Canada, Kenya, Russia, etc., and say, “You know what? If China is awarded the Olympics then we’re gonna have our own Olympics someplace like Greenland!”

Did anybody really expect China to clean its air and its dirty laundry from the time the Olympics were awarded up until now? Man, please. A snake is a snake.

In the meantime some reports have China executing 10,000 people a year. According to Wikipedia, they even punish tax fraud and other white collar crimes by death! Yikes! It's a good thing Enron was a U.S. company, or heads would have rolled, literally!

Are bigger Nike contracts, TV exposure, higher race appearance fees and purses worth turning a blind eye on the harvesting of organs from Chinese prisoners?

And so, during the games the Chinese government is going to make sure the areas in which the athletes and visitors congregate are pristine and glowing. They're proly over there right now beheading some vagrant for panhandling in or near an Olympic venue.

And speaking for myself, I acknowledged that I'm not in your shoes, but I know myself. I love children and I care a lot for the well being of people in general, especially the helpless. So even if I did participate, given the chance, I would not do so quietly or without cause (a la raised, gloved fists). I just couldn't do it in good conscience. On that I can speak authoritatively, regardless of the sacrifices I may have made to get there. Easy choice. Easy. Every time somebody stuck a mic in my face I’d be bashing the hosts for their atrocities. It’s only by the grace of God that you and I were not born Chinese in China, or Iraqi, or South African, etc. I wonder how the people feel about the games coming to their country. Not the elite ones, but the true hoi polloi citizenry.

We had a Chinese exchange student stay with us for a few weeks last year. She came from a very wealthy family and so she was all good with everything. But she wouldn’t talk about the seedy side of her country. She was too frightened about what might happen to her parents.

Running to a meeting. Peace.

Andre Rafik said...

boycott schmoycott. Lets stroke peoples ego by sacrificing athletes hard work and dedication. WORD!

mihailo said...

Being the member of the nation who was target of very brutal propaganda during 90 I become very suspicious about those "human rights" usage in global politics now days. My advice to you, in short, - it is very hard to be intellectual; you must read many sources about the issue in order to have even little bit realistic opinion. For example – even if I read a lot, even I was living in US for some time, even US are global power present in every home in the world, even I know far more about US internal problems than 99,9% Americans about ANY other nation – I NEVER preach to Americans about their internal problems. It is matter of good manners, same goes for preaching somebody about his family problems. But on the other side, Americans preach all around the world even if they can not find the country on the map…Anyway, to make your easer this is one of the links-, from Chinese point of view, where you will see, among other things, "peaceful" monks breaking into stores and smashing things in riots...Now, think what will happened to similar rioters in US, as we know that US police is one of the most trigger happy police in the world…
First country that boycotted Olympics is US, because USSR invasion of Afghanistan. Now, I can not count how many invasions US made after 1980...
And, read little bit more about Jesse Owens, what he said about that. Hitler actually shaked hands with him, but never US president...
World is not Hollywood movie, with good and bad guys...everything is different kind of grey...

ktizzle said...

this is one of those topics that i'm close to since i have quite a few friends that are trying to make this years olympics. many of whom i've known since i competed in college and some who i've met throughout the years.

i believe that it's unfair to use the olympics as a political platform to protest one countries atrocities. i think that the only reason that people are even bringing up the boycott issues is because the olympics are on a world media platform becoming a protesters smorgasbord. i don't think boycotting the olympics is the solution for many reasons. what is china truly going to lose if the US doesn't participate? not a whole lot in my opinion. the true loss will be to the athletes that have dedicated their lives and careers to make it to this elite event.

if the US and other countries wanted to make a serious statement they would enact trade embargoes and encourage other countries to do the same. why doesn't the US do that? because they have too much to lose. they owe china too much money and china has control over the US in the world market because china uses the Dollar to convert their money still. We'd be Fuct if our government decided to piss off china.

there needs to be higher standards that are taken into consideration by the olympic committee when choosing an olympic location.

if the olympics can have the highest/stringent steroid/doping policies for the purity of the games they should also have the highest/stringent policy for humanity. because without humanity/humans you would have "The Games".

it's unfortunate that you have to taint one positive event to draw attention to the enormity of another.

Nikkie T said...

Well said Bri.
It's easy to talk about what you would, could or should so when YOU aren't the one that has to DO anything. Where was all of this sentiment ten years ago, five years ago, last year?? The Olympics has NOTHING to do w/ China's human rights issues and boycotting the games may make it LOOK like we care but it won't do ANYTHING to change what's happening there. If our Government and our citizens want to take a stand on this issue, then let THEM take that stand- but don't throw someone else's life's work (and dreams) in the toilet for appearances sake.

Nikkie T said...

note my typo- That's "would, could or should DO"...
I re-read that comment like 3 times and still didn't catch that mess.

AKA_Sweetie 02 said...

Uh, the mere fact that China's economy will benefit GREATLY from the Olympics makes it a political issue. I agree that many have worked hard to make it to this point (athletes), but in the big scheme of things...really?

If there was a state in the U.S. that was subjecting blacks to the same atrocities that are going on over there, I bet NOONE would want to visit, much less participate in any event in that state.

But, that is the problem with us Americans. Most have no problem competing in China, because when the Olympics are over, they will get on the plane and head back to America. And never think twice about what is going on in China (or any other place in the world that doesn't affect them, for that matter)

Just my opinion. :)

Nikkie T said...

I certainly don't mean to sound like I am indifferent to what is happening to people in China, or anywhere where people's basic human rights are being violated for that matter.
What I'm saying though is the decision has already been made for China to host the Olympics. Like Eclectik said, everybody ain't gon' boycott, so us not showing up isn't gonna change anything. China's economy will still GREATLY benefit, and the day to day struggles and atrocities will remain. These conversations should have taken place before the decision was made to have China host the games. The international community could've taken a stand then and said "We will NOT permit you to host the Olympics for these reasons...", but they didn't. Forcing our athletes to opt out now won't do anything but make people (including those who haven't thought twice about China before now) feel a little bit better because "we" did the "right thing". We can all sit back and say "we showed China"". But come October, the majority of people who felt so strongly about this issue won't be thinking twice about what's happening to people in China. Our Government will still be dealing with, trading and making China wealthy. The only thing that will be different will be that the best athletes in our country will not have had a chance to realize their dreams. In the big scheme of things, nothing will have changed.
It's great that there's a national and international spotlight on what's happening to people there. Rather than pushing for a boycott of the Olympics or making athletes feel bad for wanting to go there and compete, we should take all this energy and really do something. Now, what that "something" should be- I dunno- hold some rallies, write your Congressperson or something... but simply boycotting the Olympics and then doing nothing afterwards...

Brianna said...

I love the discussion...

well said... it's unfortunate that you have to taint one positive event to draw attention to the enormity of another.

@sweety...I realize that china's economy will benefit greatly, but like i said WE (meaning athletes) did not choose china; we are in support of the Olympics, not the country. People keep trying to make them one and the same and I just don't believe they are. and our country does TONS of things that help china's economy. that is a choice that our government has made and continues to make. I think that is where the real protest needs to be directed.

@ are right. this conversation should have taken place BEFOREHAND.

t.v. said...

Boycotting the olympics for political reasons would be an absolute waste of time. Everyone with a sound and logical mind knows that.

What about stafety reasons, though? Do you believe that China and or the Olympic Committee are in a position to protect you from attention seeking activists who believe they are doing the right thing?

Some crazy idiot wouldn't mind harming a few hondred athletes just to further his or her cause.
I'm aware of your olympic dreams, and understand it's your chance to prove you're the best, but aren't you a bit scared of what might happen in Beijing this summer after witnessing the fiasco with the Olympic Torch Relay around the would?

Brianna said...

I don't believe in living your life in fear...I am confident that the IOC and USOC will protect us to the best of their ability.

creolejoe said...

When china was on the voting block for the olympics not one athlete said one thing to pursuad the ioc or the usoc to reconsider them as even an option because of all the human rights and environmental and u.s. spying issues or there tibet or dali lama-etc: etc:
I could not be more sensitive to this subject in terms of the athletes goals and desires and life long dreams. Since the 68 olympics all athletes except for Ali have kept there mouth shut about anything--michael jordan being the biggest failure--the influence that athletes have is incredible.
China is a woderful place i have been the history and all the undiscovered country for us westerners is awsome. That being said the government has pimped out mother china and all it's citizens. Period!
China has done everything legal and illegal to try to catch up to the rest of the industrialized world-good bad or indifferent doesn't matter--people need to realize and not personalize the situation, it's a business dummy!--Slavery in america was the capture and the manipulation of souls for the prosperity of individuals in a nation--whites were enslaved here that didn't work-native americans were enslaved here that didn't work-then africans were shipped over--bingo! lets get this country built.-here's the point black folk eventually said "fuck this" and rallied for freedom--when has the people of the peoples repulic of china said, fuck this?--maybe some here and there--not much--when people by the millions are willing to put there life on the line for a change for something more and better than what they have--then shit happens.
Contrary to this though is south africa made changes when america and other countries and corporations got there ass's whooped when u.s. citizens with at that time a very strong american dollar said--"free south africa"--guess what--it happend.--well-think about this--who did we just borrow 160 billion dollars from for our federal gov. to give all of us a nice tax credit check? Boo Yaaa: China!--yup with intrest--so we can go buy nice apple laptops and iphones and ipods that we love--no one more than me--that are made guess where--Yeeeaaaa BaaaYYbeee--China--we import 75% of everything we buy from china--wal mart would go out of business--so would target--so would best buy circuit city-man america would be screwd!
So whats my point--let the games begin!--China's people almost 2billion strong needs to step up and bite the bullet-litarlly!
But it's the responsibility of the human family to help---no buts about this no sacrifice this and dreams that bullshit if we are beings of truly deeply spiritual god loving--my brothers keeper benevolent people we would at least--the very least--say something. "China you all got a beautiful country a stunning history--but man--your fuckin up half the planet with all yor industrial waste and 90% of you people are hurting really badthey can't even breathe right homie"
There is no part of China's government that lives the olympic creed--or has taken the olympic oath--or lives the olympic spirit--It is the responsibilty of all the athletes to reach out and pull in the citinzens--the regular folk of china and let them meet and see the rest of world --they need to see the spirit of freedom and the hope of choice the will of dreams and the determination of chance. This is where the true medal of gold will be won!

B said...

I'll preface this with acknowledging I suck.

But why BEIJING? Ugh.

anonymousnupe said...

Is anybody else confused as to which position Creolejoe just took? And who exactly is he calling "dummy"?

B said...

@anonymousnupe: WORD. What is Creole saying???

ktizzle said...


is this going to be part of the USA standard issue uniform for this years olympics?!
Uniform Addendum

ktizzle said...

Sorry off topic but Bri if you see Whitney down at Sac this weekend tell her i said hi. i believe she jumps sunday.

oh and good luck with your events as well!

the gamelord said...

@anonymousnupe and @b..I think Creole is secretly a spokesman for the Chinese government and his Mandarin did not translate well into English. :-)

Serioulsy, I think the gist of Creole's message is that China is now one of the preeminent superpowers and just like the U.S. has for the past 60-70 years, will continue to do what they damn well please........boycott or no boycott. China is pretty much runnin' thangs now and ultimately it will be incumbent upon the Chinese people to play the major role in correcting the ills and injustices that their nation faces. Perhaps the spirit of the Olympic Games can be an impetus for reform in China....not, but we can hope.

My bad, Creole, if my assessment was off point.

By the way, y'all better start brushin' up on YOUR Mandarin. If things continue as they are now, 10or 20 years from now it might be our official language.

Zai jen (good bye) my people. :-)

Brianna said...

Yup...i think you got the gist of what he was trying to say. basically, the U.S. is in bed with china and it will continue to be because it is a money thing above all else. if the people of china are so discontent, they need to start an uprising from within. but OUR government will not likely do much, even though we as individuals can still open our mouths and speak out on what we believe to be wrong and injust. if he comes back he can tell me if that is right or wrong.

creolejoe said...

gamelord--- yup!--I am not pro-china government i am pro chinese people. especially the food and tsing tao beer! -). B re-read all my mis spellings and forgive them. prior to the awarding of the olympics we as a country knew very little of china--so we as a nation had no opinion we had no voice--it's typical of us cause as a nation we think that the world revolves around what we do and our way of life--i.e; democracey and capitalism. We are human beings on a spiritual journey--not-rather we are spiritual beings on a human journey.--this is what communism has taken away from china--it's the 10,000 people a year exacuted in china--mostly of whom who have spoken out about the ills of chinese government---Look--how many athletes will be wearing nike at the olympics?--alot--how much does nike pay-off an opressive communist gov . for the cheap labor--thus how much are the workers making--nike when it's all said and done spends on avg. $22.00 for all it's marketing-shipping-material-labor-corporate salaries etc;-how much do you and i pay for a pair of jordans--alot hunh?---how much damage has china done to its own environement because of no environmental standards--can't breath in beijing hunh? all that sneaker glue--how much is the average track athlete making a year--$12,500? ok--whats my point-i know i'm on a tangent--if i was phil knight i'd be in china as well--the dummy--aspect it's a business and america and china and anyone else will continue to ignore the little people--and we will continue to buy stuff made there and them little people will continue to get screwed--so yes--the chinese people need to step up and demand there country back--just like black folk wanted--"give us free" alla amistad----so when our environement fails us and california and florida are underwater and become the modern day atlantis--who do we blame--usa and china lead the world in dangerous carbon immisions---believe me, we are gonna pay dearly our planet can only take so much--it can only support so much--big changes are gonna come our planet will eventually flush it's toilet--we been shittin some kinda nasty stuff on her-for a long time--how can it not--yo bri start a blog on the environment--p.s. what country has the most english speaking people in the world????? go ahead take a guess---here is a hint --one day your father in law maybe named Ho Chi Min!

Brianna said...

my goodness, you are one long-winded, stream-of-consciousness individual. :) i think YOU should start a blog about the environment.

creolejoe said...

I wish, I can't fuckin spell and i'm never straight to the point--:)

J-Dub said...

Awesome responses. Thanks for giving your take on it Brianna.

Anonymous said...

to say it's not a political event because its about sport, tradition, and competition is untrue and somewhat naive. the olympic committee is very political, the decision to hold the olympics at whichever location is political- and is also a strong supporting statement of that location. the olympic committee has already shown itself to be very corrupt. "chinese have to fight for themselves?" would you, if the penalty was being killed? the chinese government has shown that it doesn't value life of its citizens or the environment. the american athletes possesse the strongest voice in this olympics and should have made a statement to have the location moved or enforce a boycott. the american athletes have the freedom to come together to make a stand- and have instead been silent

Brianna said...

No, it's not naive at all. I'm not saying that politics haven't made their way into the Olympics, I'm saying it was never the intention and it shouldn't be what we strive to make it. There are other ways to make statements and they don't necessarily need to involve something that still strives to bring positive experiences for many people around the world. That shouldn't be eliminated. And do you realize just how long ago China was awarded the Olympics? Becuase I will let you know that none of the Olympians participating were part of the team then so how in the world would they make a statement. It would have been the same as regular civilians, people such as YOU, making that stand. And I don't know for sure, but I really didn't hear the fuss

Anonymous said...

Miss B, would you agree that american athletes are standing on a different platform to speak up or about different issues than civilians? no gold medal is worth a damn if the u.s. isn't involved in the competition. civilians such as myself and other celebrities have hardly made a difference- the issue is not new, research it a little and you will find it very disturbing. example: the issue with tibet, free tibet concerts, etc, how long have you kinda given it a little attention before switching the channel? saying the olympics shouldn't be about politics is like sticking your head in the sand- because it doesn't change that it is. i do realize how long ago the olympics were awarded to china- that still doesn't mean todays athletes couldn't take more responsibility with their limelight position (even if they don't have to).

with all that said- take care, have a great weekend, and thanks for the interesting dialogue- peace!

anonymousnupe said...

I know this is a very old discussion, and it might be a moot point to you since you won't have to deal with it first hand, but there's new fodder, new news all over the 'Net that warrants keeping an eye on the issue, I think, like here, for instance. It's getting quite ugly.

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Anonymous said...

From one Wildcat to another (though you were much, much faster)... I saw first hand how much some of my teammates got the shaft--not to mention Willie Williams (U of A head coach as well as the USOC head coach)