Archive for the ‘Olympics’ Category


Who are you competing for?

August 8, 2008

A friend of mine sent me an email about the situation of the US basketball players who will be competing in Beijing under the Russian flag.  It’s a situation that I have some feelings about, so I wrote him back a nice long ranty email.  I’m pulling the old “copy’n’paste” maneuver and putting it here.


It’s an interesting phenomenon. There are plenty of non-American born athletes competing under the Star Spangled Banner. But those doing so are required to have taken citizenship in the US (dual or replacement) to be able to compete for us. The real interesting things about the folks competing for the Russian basketball teams is that they aren’t Russian citizens (they simply play pro basketball there), they just want to play in the Olympics.


I read this article this morning
, and while I think on the whole the author is more than a little off-base (he gets off in his columns playing the a-hole), I think at least one good point was made.


“J.R. Holden (Bucknell) is the Russian point guard. How they can live with themselves, I’ll never know. Holden has been quoted along the lines of, “The United States has never invited me to try out for the Olympic team, so what am I supposed to do?”

Here’s what you’re supposed to do, J.R. You’re supposed to make like 275 million other American citizens and watch the Olympics on television[…]”

He says some other stuff I don’t agree with, at all.  Such as you should never, under any circumstances, compete for another country in the Olympics.  Take a look at the story of Lopez Lomong, the Sudanese-born American athlete who left his home country to settle with a foster family in the US. His country’s government stole him from his parents, and he subsequently escaped to Kenya and was eventually brought to the US.  He came to America, where people dream of a better life (and we all know Americans love the idea that people come here to be the best they can be). And a better life he made, becoming a track star. He’s now a citizen of the United States, and carried the flag for our country this morning in the opening ceremonies (this is another very interesting tidbit, google Chinese + Darfur to get an idea of how pissed this probably made the Chinese government.  Or ask Joey Cheeks).

If people come to America, and become American citizens, I say they have to right to represent me in international competition. The Olympics inspires nationalism in many, and I know I’ll be cheering for the Red, White, and Blue in every sport for the next two weeks. The folks wearing our colors are our fellow citizens, and abide by the same sets of laws as we do. They deserve the same respect and admiration as someone who was born next door.

As for the folks from here but competing for other countries simply because they couldn’t make the US teams: some might brand them traitors, but I just call them pathetic. Want to compete for Russia? Go live there and be a Russian.  Don’t whine about how you weren’t asked to play for the US.

I wasn’t either.

Thanks for stopping by the End of the Bench.  Come back soon.

– Drew