Lydia Jacoby, the young breaststroker from Seward, Alaska was fortunate. She was underestimated—her potential was in her mind. She, indeed all Olympians, had worked beyond our comprehension but we didn’t try to own her—we didn’t know her. Ms. Jacoby won the gold. It can be exchanged for incomprehensible confidence and calm or fandom fury.
Simone Biles who was once a striver has become a god or what in sports is known as a GOAT (greatest of all time). Her gifts and striving had taken her to a media throne. Crowns are heavy and social media is ravenous. Biles’s step back was admirable.
Better, especially now, to retire on top. Be calmed by the gifts and sacrifice and accomplishments.
America’s Olympic dreams come in many different colors—both athletes and fans. That is America—out of many one. And, just as we encourage and fund the athletically gifted, it is crucial that educators attain the top of their game for all.
Masked interviews should be discouraged. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) should understand that facial expressions are the epicenter of excitement. Damnably, some are masked in their interviews, others not. As the Games gain momentum turning heats into finals, the IOC too should up its game and stage, safely, a venue for unmasked interviews.
Many nations are represented by a flag that expresses their oneness; the red, densely colored circle, for example, which is the flag of Japan, the host. Or the color bars, either horizontal or vertical that symbolize many nations.
This is how one writer described the United States flag: “The stripes represent the original 13 Colonies and the stars represent the 50 states of the Union. The colors of the flag are symbolic as well; red symbolizes hardiness and valor, white symbolizes purity and innocence, and blue represents vigilance, perseverance and justice.”
The flag is being attacked in some quarters as an expression of “wokeness”.
This is how the singer Macy Gray described our flag: “Like the Confederate, it is tattered, dated, divisive, and incorrect,” she said, “it no longer represents democracy and freedom.”
Our flag is implicitly aspirational and tolerant; wokeness implicitly and explicitly intolerant.
And while on the politics of sports, at least in my limited viewing politics did not tarnish interviews. Winners were gracious and didn’t use their stardom to attack others. Other performance artists should pay attention.
Finally, one more suggestion to all international sports organizations. Japan invested billions in magnificent but largely vacant Olympic venues. Its commitment should be honored by international sports organizations who select performance venues for future events.
Al Sikes is the former Chair of the Federal Communications Commission under George H.W. Bush. Al writes on themes from his book, Culture Leads Leaders Follow published by Koehler Books.