It sadly seems fitting in 2018 that a spat over who gets to carry Old Glory at the Winter Olympics’ opening ceremony on Friday in Pyeong Chang, South Korea has broken out with an implication of racism being a factor.
But that’s exactly what happened when four-time Olympic gold medalist speed skater, Shani Davis, tweeted his irritation over losing out on the honor to fellow gold medalist, luger Erin Hamlin, and implied there was racism involved.
Here’s what sparked the controversy: Each of the eight winter sporting federations — bobsled and skeleton, ski and snowboarding, figure skating, curling, biathlon, hockey, speed skating, and luge — nominate an athlete to carry the U.S. flag. Representatives from each event then vote in a series of rounds.
The vote remained in a 4-4 deadlock between Hamlin and Davis at the end of voting. Per rules, a coin toss was used to break the tie and Davis lost.
Hamlin, to her credit, expressed her surprise over being selected.
“It was a pretty big shock, but it is an honor and a privilege to be recognized by all of Team USA,” she told NBC.
Davis, on the other hand, tweeted this:
“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 #PyeongChang2018I 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”
One would think that an athlete competing at an international level would understand fair play, good sportsmanship and, above all, that coin tosses are not racist.
Is there some remote possibility the initial tie was racist? Anything is possible. Is it likely or even probable in 2018? No.
As this is the first time I’ve encountered either Olympian, I’d say Davis’s dyspeptic reaction compared to Hamlin’s makes one think it could be more likely he didn’t come out ahead in the voting because people don’t like his attitude, than it having anything to do with race.
I guess we don’t live in a time where we keep our sour grapes to ourselves and take the gracious, sporting route when we don’t get what we want or think we deserve.