Gwen Berry, Megan Rapinoe, Nike Waffle Trainers, Olympics, Simone Biles, sports fan, US Women's Soccer, walk it off, woke olympics
I am not what is commonly understood to be a “sports fan.” I always, as far as I can remember, have preferred to do sports rather than to watch them. Admittedly, I’ve played less popular sports like bicycling, European and Japanese fencing and soccer. I’ve never been one to have a “favorite” professional sports team. I’ve never known the names of more than a handful of professional athletes, though I have admired a few over the years for their athletic prowess, and less often, what I’ve been able to glean of their character. Mostly in my younger years, I was very busy with music.
When friends and coworkers had excited—or disgusted—conversations about “the game” over the weekend, I had nothing to add, no touchstones for appreciation or outrage. I occasionally watched portions of various Olympics, again, mostly because a given American athlete was extraordinary, and yes, I saw the ”Miracle On Ice” in 1980. That was truly extraordinary and an important Cold War victory, one that made the hearts of every American patriot—there seem to be fewer these days—swell with pride.
And every time an American won a gold medal, and the National Anthem played, and they were appropriately reverent and awed by the responsibility and the incredible opportunity to represent America—the best of America—on the world stage, I shed a tear with them.
Hammer thrower Gwen Berry, who turned away from the American flag as the national anthem played as she stood on a podium during the U.S. Olympic track and field trials, said she felt blindsided by the timing of the song.
Berry placed third Saturday at the trials in Eugene, Oregon, earning a trip to the Tokyo Olympics next month.
‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ was played once a night at the trials, and it began as Berry was on the podium after receiving her bronze medal. The first- and second-place finishers, DeAnna Price and Brooke Andersen, stood on the top two steps of the podium.
‘I feel like it was a set-up, and they did it on purpose,’ Berry said of the timing of the anthem, according to The Associated Press. ‘I was pissed, to be honest.’
As the song played, Berry turned to face the stands, away from the flag, and eventually draped a black T-shirt that read ‘Activist, Athlete,’ over her head.
Berry said she thought the song was going to play before the athletes took to the podium.
‘They said they were going to play it before we walked out, then they played it when we were out there,’ Berry said, according to the AP. ‘But I don’t really want to talk about the anthem because that’s not important. The anthem doesn’t speak for me. It never has.’
Berry has sworn, if she finds herself on the medal stand, to protest against the flag and the anthem, and of course, against America, which doesn’t speak for her. How dare it not?! Fortunately, Berry failed to medal. The anthem was played at the Olympic Trials every day on a previously published schedule. No one played the anthem to bother Gwen Berry (why should the national anthem bother any American?), but hey, it’s all about her and her anti-American, “activist athlete” sensibilities. She has her three minutes of fame and she’s going to use it to insult every American that helped put her in those trials.
What is she thinking? There is no professional hammer-throwing league. There aren’t going to be any multi-million dollar endorsement contracts. One day, and likely soon, Berry will no longer be an athlete. She’ll no longer have a spotlight, dim as the hammer-throwing spotlight is, and she’ll have to make a living in the country that doesn’t speak for her and never has. A particularly unlikeable and obviously entitled hammer thrower will not be in demand; BLM and Antifa have already been taken. Perhaps a career as a CRT lecturer?
Some commentators have said they won’t root against American athletes. I feel the same, which is why I didn’t root for Gwen Berry. With that in mind, let’s hear from Paul Mirengoff at Powerline on the US Women’s soccer team, which as you’ll recall lost—incredibly badly—to Sweden in its first Olympic game. It’s not doing much better since:
Canada defeated the U.S. 1-0 in women’s soccer at the Olympics today. The defeat came in the tournament semi-finals. Thus, a bronze medal is the best the U.S. can do in this sport this year.
They’ll have a chance at silver, but considering their lack of cohesion—call it karma—bronze is most likely.
I’ll never root against the U.S. or take pleasure from Americans losing. However, I’ll shed no tears over the U.S. women falling short at the Olympics.
This is one of the most obnoxious, arrogant, and whiny sports teams I’ve observed in more than sixty years of fandom. And, although there’s likely some diversity in the political views of team members, the face of the squad, Megan Rapinoe, is an abrasive far-leftist — and a world class narcissist.
The Olympics may be the end of the line, or close to it, for Rapinoe and other team veterans. Their accomplishments are impressive, even taking into account the relatively small number of nations that take women’s soccer seriously enough to provide worthy competition.
This year, Rapinoe, a lesbian soccer player rather than a soccer player who happens to be lesbian, infected most of the team. They got woke. They complained about their pay compared to men’s soccer. It would seem their dedication to ill-considered protest overpowered their dedication to the sport, and certainly to America and to the American people who sponsored them, and as many of them leave the sport forever, they do so not as champions, but as a footnote in the annals of wokedom.
During my late teens, my high school best friend’s older brother took as job as the PR guy for the then professional soccer team in San Antonio, TX. I learned through him, the hard, cold realities of professional sports, particularly a sport not embraced by American audiences. Sports, gentle readers, are entertainment, the players entertainers, and those entertainers are paid based on what the public is willing to pay for that entertainment. Back then, it was a pittance.
As I understand it, American—male—professional teams are paid a bit more these days, but nothing compared to the NFL, NBA or even MLB. Women’s professional soccer? A pittance. But why? Are Americans sexist, somehow prejudiced against female soccer players? Cold, hard reality: Americans don’t much care for men’s soccer. They care even less for women’s soccer. The pay is commensurate with public interest, nothing more, nothing less.
But hey, women ought to get the same pay for the same work! Not in professional sports where public interest dictates everything. Remember, they’re not teachers, doctors, plumbers or electricians. They’re people paid to play a children’s game– entertainers–and if the public doesn’t like their act… Oh, and Rapinoe, defeated by Canada, was anything but sportsmanlike:
After the U.S. women’s soccer team lost 1-0 to Canada on Monday at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, forward Megan Rapinoe told reporters, ‘Obviously, we never want to lose to Canada. I don’t think I’ve ever lost to Canada. … this sucks. It sucks.’
Well, Rapinoe’s lack of grace surely does. It’s a shame—barely—they’ll go out far below the brilliance of their glory days, but they got woke and got busted. They got entitled and self-important. They wiped gratitude and humility from their internal dictionaries (yes, I know not all of them—probably—are like that). Their choice. Pride goeth before a fall. I won’t be shedding any tears.
And then there is Simone Biles. She’s a young athlete of unquestioned accomplishment, but she is an entertainer too, and as all entertainers know, you’re only as good as your last performance. She has never, to my knowledge, spit on the flag or dishonored America. As I’m sure you know by now, she all but completely dropped out of the Olympics after badly flubbing a landing, making teammates take her place, citing concern for her mental health.
During my high school days, I was one of the handful of fastest track athletes in my state. That came at a price. I suffered, for three years, from terrible shin splints. I often found myself limping pitifully down the hallways of my high school, and ran through debilitating pain. My coaches thought me a hypochondriac. “Coach, I have compound fractures of both legs!” “Walk it off,” was the invariable reply in those days. I did all the races anyway, but oh dear, the pain…
It wasn’t until years later, with the running shoe revolution begun with the Nike Waffle Trainer, that my shin splints went—immediately and magically—away. It wasn’t hypochondria; it was those gosh-awful Keds, which was all we had for training shoes in the 1400s. We were an unsophisticated lot back then–running on long spikes and cinder tracks, yards instead of meters–and we didn’t know any better. Thereafter I ran marathons and scores of shorter races, and had no trouble walking it off. I suppose there are still people from those high school days who thought I wasn’t mentally strong enough to walk it off.
But what of Biles? Sure, she had a great deal of pressure on her, but she knew that bed was on fire when she lay down on it. She spent much of her life in a training regime most can barely imagine, and for what if not to shine on the world stage, one of a vanishingly small portion of humanity capable of doing what she could do. All that work, not for nothing, but oh my… Well, not quite. She did do the balance beam and got a bronze medal.
Who, if anyone, did she let down? Herself? Likely. Her parents, teammates, coaches…America? She didn’t cowgirl up, but one can’t walk off a broken neck or death, which could have been the result if she felt she wasn’t capable of pulling off her dangerous routines. At that level, if you think you can’t, you can’t.
She’s a human being with incredible capabilities in a narrow field of athletic endeavor, but a human being nonetheless, with all the frailties to which human beings are susceptible. She’s going to live with this for the rest of her life and I know of nothing that would indicate she doesn’t have an active conscience. I make no pronouncement where she is concerned. You?
March Hare said:
My opinion about Ms. Biles dropping out of events changed after reading comments from other competitive gymnasts about “the twisties,” which is apparently what afflicted Ms. Biles. It’s very serious—the gymnast loses her sense of where she is in relation to the air and the floor and can result in serious injury. I think the initial messaging from the US Gymnastics Team did her no favors and because the gymnasts make the moves look effortless, the rest of us forget how dangerous this sport is.
Having said that, Hubs and I are enjoying the Olympics, particularly some of the lesser-known sports (we are currently watching women’s marathon swimming—10k, 2 hours in open water!). I especially enjoy the human stories: the Iranian judoka who dedicated his silver medal to Israel, the two high jumpers & close friends who decided to share their gold medal, the Japanese brother & sister judoka who won gold medals within hours of each other, the American silver medalist in hurdles who was excited not just to win silver, but that her training partner won the gold for Puerto Rico.
There is so much more, I don’t even notice the whiners!
Elmer Fudd said:
I was puzzled and a bit disappointed by Semone Biles withdrawal from events until I read this:
Think about what the physics of what the gymnasts, especially the women gymnasts are doing. The kinetic energy combined with potential energy involved in their routines is far more than sufecient to be lethal. Factor in their angular momentum and it is a wonder that they survive. When a gymnast reaches the point where they no longer have the spacial awareness to be confident that they can perform their routine, it is time for them to quit.
One must not forget that women’s gymnastics has evolved and progressed. Some of us remember how amazed we were by Nadia Comaneci back in 1976. The inverted backflip on the balance beam was awe inspiring. Nadia would never qualify for the finals against Semone Biles and her team mates.
If I was President, I would give Ms Biles the Presidential Medal of Freedom to honor her accomplishments.
I second that emotion, Fudd. She achieved far more than Limbaugh ever did to deserve that medal (the difference between a “GOAT” and an ass for sure). But I digress.
To the greater point, for decades it’s bothered me what these Olympic kids go through in running, jumping, skating, tumbling, higher, farther, faster. I don’t recall seeing “kids” (minors) in all those early newsreels of Olympics past. Adults are training them. Something not right to me about that picture. Rather falls into that.. just-because-we-can-it-doesn’t-mean-we-should kinda thing. Abuse can come in many forms.. even permitted for other more accepted expediencies.
Doug, Oh BS. Comparing any gymnast to Rush is just plain stupid. Try it. Come on, you’re above it all. Get your ass on the air and get people to listen to you for 3 hours a day for 30 years at any level approaching what Rush did. Read Teddy Rosevelt’s “Man in the Arena” speech.
If a gymnast’s “twisties” are anything like the “vertigo” I’ve experienced in flight, I sympathize with Ms. Biles. Loss of situational awareness, when your internal gyros tumble and you don’t know up from down, is damned scary. We fly-guys were trained to trust our cockpit instruments and NOT believe our brains’ false info. Gymnasts have no instruments; they’re on their own.
So far it’s unanimous. I had an attitude more like Mike’s at first, until I read the account a previous poster linked above.
Gymnasts really do death defying feats and if her description of having no idea where she was in the air during her routine is accurate, I don’t blame her for dropping out. After reading her account and getting more information about what “the twisties” are, I think she probably did the right thing.
Elmer Fudd said:
BTW, I seldom bother to watch sports. My interest in the NFL never extended beyond watching the Superbowl and only for the commercials. Now that almost all of the NFL players are kneeling, I will not even watch a delayed recording to fast forward through to the commercials.
However; I will watch certain events at the Olympics. First and foremost is women’s gymnastics. I also enjoy watching woman’s track and field as well as women’s beach volleyball.
I seem to perceive a pattern here.
Mike McDaniel said:
Dear Elmer Fudd:
That is suspiciously pattern-like.
Alan Reasin said:
I too though she was a wimp, then I saw the pile of foam used during the practice vs the mat to land on during the competition. I become more interested in the whys and then read about the twisties and changed my mind.
I thought her withdrawal was unusual – I mean, it’s the Olympics!
But when she didn’t use it as an opportunity to boost her woke cred, I just accepted her decision and wished her the best. People have all kinds of reasons for what they do, and her not blaming it on someone else deserves basic respect.
Elmer Fudd said:
I confess that I found myself speculating that Ms Biles might be pregnant. This would perhaps not only disturb her spacial perception and balance, it would provoke concern about injuring her unborn baby. If this is true, then I salute her.
Back in the day I worked a few Olympics (Sarajevo, Barcelona & Atlanta) – providing the pictures to the world. There are many stories that never get told, I glad hers has been accepted.
I echo ThePermit about Loss of situational awareness (worst case for me was a ride on “The vomit comet” – was fine in the air as long as I looked at the windows and kept control of the “portable” 1″ tape deck and camera but once back on the ground!) and second was my first time “under the hood” for Instrument flight back in the ’80’s!
I hated professional sports as a kid because when televised it always seemed to go into overtime and either delayed my fave TV shows or pre-empted them entirely. As an adult I just have no interest because they all make more money than I could ever imagine.. and they bitch about it.
Mike McDaniel said:
That does seem a bit–ungrateful–doesn’t it?
The disparity is as disheartening as it is disappointing, hence my disinterest.
Elmer Fudd said:
Just watched the women’s group artistic swimming. This is now one of my favorite spectator sports!
Mike McDaniel said:
Dear Elmer Fudd:
It really is extraordinary.