SPORTS COMMENTARY

MCMURRY: Let’s make our olympians feel proud to wear the red, white, and blue

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It’s the greatest honor in the world.

That’s what many olympians across the world say about representing their country.

It would be a correct assumption to think this is the norm across the board, but there have been exceptions — and as the 2020 (2021) Summer Olympics are set to get underway in Tokyo on Friday, I can’t help but wonder what is going through the heads of both United States athletes and fans that plan on tuning into the games.

In late June, United States hammer thrower Gwendolyn Berry turned away from the American flag while on the podium for the event’s medal ceremony at the U.S. Olympic trials. It wasn’t Berry’s first run in with protesting. She was suspended for 12 months by the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee for a raised first at the 2019 Pan American Games. 

Athletes protesting is nothing new. And the majority of the time it has to do with racial discrimination and seeking equality.

I don’t care what side of the fence you’re on, if athletes are protesting — there is a problem within your country. And that’s something I think we can all agree on to some degree.

But what is it? And what can do we about it?

Well for the next three weeks are actions as United States citizens can be very simple.

To me, the Olympics are a time to rally around the homeland. To cheer on the athletes supporting the red, white, and blue and to awe in the ability of the best athletes in the world. 

This year just feels different, and it’s concerning. But there’s still time to do the right thing. There’s still time to make our olympians feel proud to represent the United States on the biggest stage.

The summer olympics always bolster more of appeal with some of basketball’s biggest stars playing, gymnastics has taken the front seat for American rooting interest in the last 20 years, while Michael Phelps’ dominance helped elevate swimming’s popularity similar to Tiger Woods and the game of golf.

Baseball, softball, and wrestling have returned to the summer games, while beach volleyball, archery, and surfing are always popular to the average fan. In total, there’s something for everyone.

Each day I read a new post or tweet about someone upset with the way athletes are using their platform and representing the entertainment world and saying they are boycotting sports.

My question is why? Are there a handful of athletes out there like Berry? Absolutely. Are any of them out to get you and what you stand for? I doubt it. Are any of them putting their social beliefs ahead of their on the field accomplishments? Absolutely not.

The overwhelming majority of athletes are thrilled at the opportunity to represent their country in the Olympics.

It’s our job to make them feel proud.

So for the next three weeks it’s very simple. Put the negative thoughts away and put your country first.

I’ve never been more proud to be an American. I love my country. And I’m going to do everything in my power to make our athletes feel proud too — by supporting them, rooting for them, and cheering them on. Because they deserve to be wanted by their country — no matter their race, religion, or creed. An American is an American.  

Jared McMurry was born and raised in Montgomery County and is the Sports Editor of the Journal Review. He can be reached by email at jmcmurry@jrpress.com and by phone at 765-918-8656. Follow him on Twitter @jaredmac26 

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