Is Anybody Watching the Olympics?

The Beijing Winter Olympics started last week, or maybe the week before. I’m not really sure, but I know that they are going on because I have been seeing ads for them.

I haven’t watched a single moment of these Games. Not one. I’m sad about that, or rather, I’m sad that I’m not sad. I feel like I should be, but I’m not. I feel like I should be supporting the old Red, White, and Blue by watching and cheering on our athletes, but is there really a connection these days? I wish there were, and that’s probably what makes me sad.

Since the 1970s I have closely followed the Olympics and rooted for our American Olympians. Like many youngsters, I dreamed of becoming one of them, but, like virtually all of us, that was not meant to be. I remember Bruce Jenner winning the 1976 decathalon, the U.S. hockey team’s ‘miracle’ in 1980, Carl Lewis sprinting and jumping in 1984, Janet Evens dashing through the pool in 1988, the American ‘Dream Team’ in basketball in 1992, Michael Johnson and his gold shoes in 1996, and so on.

I always enjoyed watching the Olympics and cheering for my fellow Americans.

They may come from thousands of miles away from my home, have a different accent, and look different than I do, but by gosh, we shared the bond of being Americans, of being blessed by living in the best, freest, most generous nation on earth. Since I lacked the skills to participate, these athletes represented me and my fellow Americans in this spectacular international competition, showing what freedom, hard, work, dedication, and devotion could do. They made me proud of my country. Maybe I was naïve, but they seemed proud themselves to represent the USA. Okay, I was too young to comprehend the black power salute in the 1968 Olympics, so I was still untarnished.

Fast-forward to today and what do we have? Well, we have the nation that originated a global pandemic and was deceptive about its beginning hosting the Games. That same communist nation has been cracking down on formerly-free Hong Kong and on its ethnic minorities. It has removed references to Tiananmen Square and the heroic protests there. It is a growing world power that threatens Taiwan and acts aggressively towards it other neighbors. Chinese totalitarianism is brutal.

The fact that a ruthless communist nation is hosting the winter Olympics is a discouraging factor, but not enough by itself. After all, I could always tune in to cheer for our American men and women to go over and teach those Maoists a thing or two. Wouldn’t it be like the old Cold War days when we battled, and usually beat, the Soviets on a field of sport and avoided the field of battle?

This time it feels different and it is not solely due to China. It has more to do with our U.S. team. While I’m sure that there are many athletes who recognize that it is an honor to represent one’s nation at the Games, the impression exists that many athletes reject this. (I hope I’m wrong.) The Olympics are not a gathering of random people from around the world, but a gathering of nations to compete in sport in a peaceful manner. When an American skier dons the Red, White, and Blue of a team USA uniform, he no longer represents himself alone, but rather our whole nation. When an ice skater steps onto the ice and is introduced as an American, she represents all of us, from Florida to California, and from Maine to Hawaii. It seems that a lot of athletes do not understand this. I know that it is not fair to lump all athletes together, but that is how it is. Life is often not fair.

It has become too fashionable to reject the values for which America stands. Television networks seem to promote the far-left agenda, including one-party rule, suppression of free speech, and the increase in government power. Individuals get cancelled from jobs and school if they are not ‘woke’ enough. We are all supposed to support the cultural Marxism of Black Lives Matter. We are encouraged to judge each other by the color of our skin. We are told that we must tolerate the ‘mostly peaceful’ rioting and burning of our cities by leftists. Too much of America and too many American youth seem to have given in to this destructive mindset. Again, I hope that I am wrong here.

Further, much of my attitude goes back to the disgraceful behavior of the U.S. women’s soccer team during last year’s summer Games, taking a knee to protest against the very nation that they were ostensibly representing. For goodness sakes ladies, show some strength in your convictions. If you’d rather demonstrate against a nation than represent it on an international stage, that’s fine, but don’t try to do both. Protest the nation. March. Wave signs. Shout. Whatever. But don’t agree to represent America to the world and then protest against it. That is just selfish arrogance; abusing your country for your own benefit while disrespecting it as publicly as possible. What those soccer ladies made clear was that they were playing for themselves and for each other, not for the U.S. Okay then, have it your way. You disavow America, then Americans like me disavow you. You are not my friends, neighbors, or relatives. I have no reason to cheer for you since you broke the connection that we would have had as Americans. The heck with you. Who cares about you? Not me.

So I am quite content not watching this year’s Olympics. I have other things to do besides root for people to whom I have no affiliation or connection. Maybe some year I’ll watch again. Maybe athletes will let it be known that they respect freedom and consider it an honor to represent the U.S. It would be nice if that day comes. For now, sorry, but I will not be tuning in. Oops, sorry, not sorry.

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A.T. Moses

A.T. Moses is a father, an economics professor, and a little league coach in the Washington, DC area.

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