The Olympics have always been about presenting the best of us as a species. An event where the world puts aside its differences for a few weeks and comes together in a display of human spirit and athletic achievement. This is why it’s such a shame that the American participation in this year’s Olympics, has been marred by a shameful display of pettiness before the games have even officially begun.
American athlete and multiple time Olympian Shani Davis apparently decided long ago in his own mind that he would be the flag bearer for his country at the PyeongChang 2018 games. The only problem is that the actual American team had other plans. As when the team representatives from each winter sport met to vote for who would have this honor. It resulted in a 4-4 tie between Davis and fellow veteran Olympian Erin Hamlin. As per United States Olympic Committee rules, the tie vote was to be settled by a fair and neutral coin toss. A staple of impartiality in sports, it must have been expected that Mr. Davis would abide by the coin’s decision, especially given that he agreed to follow all committee rules when he became a member of Team USA.
When things didn’t go Shani’s way, however, instead of respecting that it just wasn’t his lucky night, the speed skater took to Twitter, to express his outrage over the whole situation. Calling Team USA dishonorable for tossing a coin at all, he seemed to be disgusted by the idea that the female athlete’s name was even in the running alongside his. Davis apparently believing that only he was worthy of such a privilege in the first place. Adding even more fuel to the fire, he also chose to politicize his anger by throwing up a #BlackHistoryMonth hashtag. Suggesting not so subtlety, that there was some level of racial bias present in the decision making process.
I am an American and when I won the 1000m in 2010 I became the first American to 2-peat in that event. @TeamUSA dishonorably tossed a coin to decide its 2018 flag bearer. No problem. I can wait until 2022. #BlackHistoryMonth2018 #PyeongChang2018 pic.twitter.com/dsmTtNkhJs
— Shani Davis (@ShaniDavis) February 8, 2018
Beyond just the unnecessary decision to bring race into the matter. Which was silly given that had he won the coin toss, Team USA would have more than happily handed it over to him. It’s shameful to us all that Mr. Davis is not displaying the calm and classy demeanor we expect of Olympians in general, let alone of a former American Gold Medalist. Doubling down on this disgusting display of pettiness, new reports are even indicating that the athlete will now refuse to join Team USA when they march during the opening ceremony in Pyeongchang. With Davis having apparently told Team USA from the start, that he would only march with his fellow countrymen if he were holding the flag.
The irony here is that this behavior clearly displays just why Mr. Davis was not in fact worthy of being the flag bearer, to begin with. How can he start his tweet with the words I am an American, and then refuse to march with his fellow Americans? It’s a level of disrespect both to his fellow athletes and to the country he is there to represent, that isn’t proper for an Olympian of his caliber.
For now, we can rest easy knowing our flag will be honorably presented to the world in the hands of Olympic Luger Erin Hamlin. An accomplished Olympian in her own right, Hamlin became at the last Winter Games, the first American of either gender to medal in a singles luge competition. Her diplomatic handling of the situation in the hours since Davis made his outlandish public declaration all the more proving just why she deserves this honor. It’s time Shani Davis let go of his massive ego, more befitting an NBA court then the Olympic games, and congratulated Erin on winning this privilege fair and square. Just as she most certainly would have done for him had that fateful coin gone the other way.
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