Fencer takes a knee…Is this the new Olympic spirit?

by John Boruk

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It was only a matter of time before an American athlete would embarrass his country on the world stage.

Fencer Race Imboden chose to take a knee on the podium after the three-man squad he was a part of won gold during the team foil event. He sent out a tweet calling for a change and a lack of pride over “shortcomings” pointing to racism, gun control and the mistreatment of immigrants.

Imboden stood behind teammates Gerek Meinhardt and Nick Itkin, who appropriately chose to stand in honor of their country..

Of course, Imboden is now the progressive’s new-found hero and he continued his tweet rant by encouraging others to use their platforms for “empowerment and change.”

 

What’s worse is that Imboden’s gold medal protest was in complete defiance to the United States Olympic Committee’s statement prior to the games telling athletes to refrain from political demonstrations.

“In this case, Race didn’t adhere to the commitment he made to the organizing committee and the USOPC,” USOPC spokesperson Mark Jones said, “We respect his rights to express his viewpoints, but we are disappointed that he chose not to honor his commitment.”

But regardless, Imboden elected to take a stance which isn’t the first time. The fencer also took a knee during the playing of the “Star Spangled Banner’ during a World Cup event in Egypt in 2017 that was largely unreported.

Let’s make this clear: any member of a national team who shows a complete disregard for the flag and the nation that athlete is representing should not be allowed to compete. Period.

The Pan Am Games is comprised of 41 nations in North and South America – many of those with a horrendous record on human and civil rights in their countries. How do you think Imboden would be received by Communist Cuba, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, or Colombia if he took a similar position?

I’m pretty certain this would be his last competition, but he’s fortunate to live in a country where he has the freedoms and liberties to pull off a “political protest”, and then be labeled a hero for doing so.  

All of this is a really bad look with the Summer Olympics coming to Tokyo next summer.

And don’t expect this media-fueled rhetoric and political discourse to simmer down over the next 11 months either as both sides continue to push the narrative of white supremacy, violence and perceived police brutality. 

Between the flag-dropping US Women’s Soccer team, and now Imboden’s protest at the Pan Am Games, Team USA is more of a reflection of today’s Divided States of America where (to some people) it has become fashionable to undermine your country with the rest of the world watching.

A few weeks ago, Sports Illustrated’s Michael Rosenberg raised the question of whether American athletes will make the Olympics political with the potential of the ugliest American visit to Tokyo since George H.W. Bush vomited on Japanese Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa. 

Perhaps.

Watching American athletes take a very un-American stance is enough to make your stomach queasy.