I haven’t paid attention to the Winter Olympics. Probably because every time I turn it on there is a new “sport” that makes absolutely no sense to me. For example, there is a race with two team of skaters, each team having three members. They skate together but the time of the third skater is the only one that counts. Why? What’s the point? Curling, another so-called “sport” that I can’t wrap my head around. Then there is the snowboarding event and the other “Xtreme” sports added to the WO. I just don’t have an interest.
What peeked my interest is the hoopla over the American speed skater, Shani Davis. Being from Chicago, I heard a lot about him and I’ve always kind of rooted for him even if I never go out of my way to see him skate. He came into the WO with the goal of taking home the Gold. His crime was that he didn’t participate in the team events. That rubbed other American speed skaters the wrong way and they’ve made it rather difficult for him as well as the NBC talking heads.
Well, Shani won a gold and became the first black American to win an individual medal in the WO. I guess NBC expected him to take the Jackie Robinson mantra and he didn’t. Now everyone is trashing the brother over his interview. I read the transcript and I just don’t get it. I’ll post the transcript and you can read for yourself, but if he was angry I have my guess as to why.
A black man venturing into a world dominated by whites can be a daunting experience. It’s especially difficult when people expect you to carry the pride of an entire race on you back and still “play” the game by the rules they (meaning white folks) created. Add in the media’s propensity to either paint you as a media darling or antagonist, and you have a recipe for a large chip on the shoulders. I’m sure Shani has a very large chip and he probably wasn’t interested in carrying the esteem of an entire race along for the ride. Many sports athletes make that decision. Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali and Arthur Ash decided they carry that burden. Michael Jordan, Reggie Jackson and many others decided against it. To each his own.
Shani Davis won a gold medal and the only thing he was thinking, “I came here to win a gold medal and I did.” I’m happy for him. The folks at NBC are a-wipes and the rest of the American speed skating team are jerks for black-balling Shani and not even acknowledging his win. I don't blame the brother for not being bother with them.
I may try to catch his next race but I’m not going out of my way to do so. I still think the WO are garbage except for downhill skiing and bobsledding. I do like ice skating but it’s not a sport. Sorry to offend you ice skaters out there but if ice skating is a sport then ballroom dancing should be in the summer games.
The following is the interview with Shani Davis after he won the gold medal. Let me know what you think of it.
Dan Hicks: Let's go down to Melissa.
Melissa Starks: Well, he was favored in this event, he trained for it for a year, and it paid off. Shani, it's nice to finally see a smile on your face. What does this win mean to you?
Davis: Um, it means that all my hard work paid off finally.
Starks: You are the first African-American male to win a gold medal at the Winter Games. How proud are you of that?
Davis: I'm pretty happy about it.
Starks: That's it?
Starks: OK, um, your mom, Cherie, you've credited her with much of your success. Uh, is this medal as much for her as it is for you?
Davis: Yeah. She earned it too.
Starks: Are you angry, Shani?
Davis: No, I'm happy. I have a loss for words right now.
Starks: All right. You sure do look happy (clearly sardonic). Dan, back to you.
Hicks: That is certainly not the kind of interview you're used to hearing from an Olympic gold medalist. It is obvious something is on Davis' mind, and at this stage of the Games, we're not about to guess what that might be.
Bob Costas: And I won't either, Dan. Even after this 1-2 finish for the Americans, he tension within the U.S. team remains real, that's clear. After the event, Chad Hedrick was asked if he was happy for Davis. Hedrick's terse reply: "I'm happy for Joey," referring to silver medalist Joey Cheek. This all sets up a compelling matchup for Tuesday's 1,500-meter race, which is really where Hedrick and Davis' specialties overlap. Davis, the 2004 world champion; Hedrick, the current world record-holder in the event; each already with a gold medal here. OK, while we digest that, we return to short track ...
1. Should a black person feel obligated to carry the "First black" mantra?
2. Do you think black athletes get more negative coverage than their white counterparts?
3. If yes, why do you think that is?
4. Should Shani Davis participated in the team events putting at risk his individual goals?