African-American speed skater Shani Davis tied luge athlete Erin Hamlin in the voting among the athletes to carry the flag for the U.S. Winter Olympics team in last night’s opening ceremonies. The team rules dictated that a coin toss should break the tie, and Hamlin won. Davis threw a Twitter tantrum:
Particularly obnoxious is the Black History Month reference, a direct allusion to the fact that Hamlin is white. I must have missed it: does Black History Month require that all African-Americans get special advantages, privileges and thumbs on the scale in every walk of life, or just black Olympic athletes, or just Davis? Perhaps Davis was subtly claiming that the coin flip was somehow racially biased, or perhaps that the coin was.
That’s not all, though. To make sure he wrapped up the gold medal for toxic jerkism, Davis also..
- …protected his Twitter account so only approved followers could see his race-baiting and ungracious tweet, presumably on the theory that anyone who would voluntarily follow such an ass would see nothing inappropriate about his snit, and..
- …boycotted the Opening Ceremonies, refusing to join his team in entering the stadium behind a young white athlete carrying the U.S. flag.
The question for me is how Davis even got as many votes as he did. Davis has trained separately from U.S. teammates for years, including the last two summers in South Korea. This year, he chose to do his pre-Olympic training in Germany while the U.S. team had its camp in Milwaukee. In 2006, when he became the first black athlete to win an individual gold medal at a Winter Games, Davis decided not to take part in the team pursuit event. Teammate Chad Hedrick mentioned the episode in a press conference, and Davis stormed out of the room.
I wouldn’t trust a guy like this to carry the U.S. flag; he might decide to kneel on it or something.
Davis was successful, to some extent, in turning his loss of the coin flip into a racial controversy. Reverend Jesse Jackson, who has won race-baiting jerk medals in the past, called upon the US Olympic Committee to change the flagbearer selection process, presumably to a method that always favors black athletes. Jackson tweeted:
“The choice to represent our country as #flagbearer in the @Olympics should never be determined by the flip of a coin. The Committee should immediately institute a more appropriate system to make such a significant determination.”
USOC spokesman Mark Jones noted in response that the selection procedures, including the coin toss tie-breaker, is known well in advance, saying, “The Team USA flag bearer is selected using a detailed selection procedure that is fully driven by athletes.” Some of Davis’s teammates also weren’t accepting the sour grapes. US Olympic bobsledder Nick Cunningham, tweeted,
“I bet you wouldn’t be talking if it went in your favor.Carrying the flag goes beyond wins and losses and it’s an honor to even be considered.You’re only proving the coin flipped to the correct side.”
Freestyle skier David Wise wrote,
“He or She who bears the flag for @Team USA should conduct themselves with both honor and HUMILITY. A true Champion would walk by their teammate proudly. Seems to me the dishonorable coin made the right choice. As far as 2022 is concerned … you won’t receive my vote.”
Davis should have been kicked off the team. There is little enough justification for the Olympics at this point anyway, as it is mostly staged for TV ratings and advertisers, but the games are supposed to celebrate sportsmanship. Davis undermines that message, and his team, and is an embarrassment to his country. I wonder what would have happened to a white athlete who threw a similar race-based hissy-fit after losing a coin flip to a black athlete?
NBC didn’t mention the episode or Davis’s boycott during its coverage of the ceremonies last night. Apparently it wasn’t newsworthy.
Yeah, I’m sure that’s it.