A new feature from Jessica Murphy
I don’t know why, but this morning I was listening to the CBC on the radio.
Anyway, the item concerned athletes and whether or not the winners’ podium is the appropriate space in which to make a political, socially sensitive, or racially motivated statement. Apparently an American athlete turned her back on the American flag, and later explained that the Stars and Stripes do not represent her history.
Okay. Resent your country’s flag, or history, or anthem, or whatever.
But, if you receive any funding at all from that nation for your sport, then you are wrong, a viper, and an ingrate to dishonour your country’s flag.
Most national level athletes receive a stipend from their governments. If the athlete is sufficiently elite he or she might merit a coach, and perhaps a physical therapist, a chiropractor, a dietician and in some cases a motivational expert to help envision a win. The athlete is housed, for months of the year, is transported to various meets, is outfitted with the newest and best of equipment, etc. etc. All at the nation’s cost.
The world’s very best—or at least best supported—athletes get to go to the Olympics, the height of world athletic competition. This year, the Canadian athletes have been told that political or social statements made during the medal ceremonies will result in a fine. If that statement is at all demeaning to the Canadian flag, anthem, or nation, it should result in a total withdrawal of all government support, removal from the Canadian Olympic contingent, and basically, a black-balling from all further national teams, funding, and support.
State endowed athletes can make their opinions known where and when it is appropriate. Maybe after the Olympics. But then, not so many of the world’s TV cameras would be focussed on them.
That’s what I think. What do you think?