Today, another conversation on athletes’ right to protest.
Ramble of the Day
Earlier this week, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee’s Athlete Advisory Council wrote a letter (which they also shared chunks of in a Twitter thread) to the International Olympic Committee and International Paralympic Committee encouraging them to abolish Rule 50. The specific guidelines under Rule 50 were published in January, banning players from protests and demonstrations. The whole letter is worthy reading, but here’s one thing that stood out to me:
"We are now at a crossroads. The IOC and IPC cannot continue on the path of punishing or removing athletes who speak up for what they believe in, especially when those beliefs exemplify the goals of Olympism."— USOPC AAC (@USOPC_AAC) June 27, 2020
This point is something I have thought about frequently. There are a number of people who have made the entry level statement against racism — sports organizations do it all the time, but they react poorly to displays of anti-racist sentiments. Tommie Smith and John Carlos, who protested at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, were kicked out of the Games immediately after their protest against racial injustice; more recently, Gwen Berry and Race Imboden received 12 month probations from the U.S. Olympic Committee for their protests at the Pan American games in August.
The athletes later make the point that the stance tends to be hypocritical — you can compare the USOC’s actions against Berry and Imboden with the fact that John Carlos was inducted into its Hall of Fame last year. Organizations are always playing catch up when it comes to athletes taking strong stances against discrimination, and frustratingly so. Many knew in the moment that Carlos and Smith’s protest in 1968 was about being anti-racist, and they knew it at the time of Berry and Imboden’s protests last year. It’s not just sports, either — many knew in the moment (and before the moment) that Green Book, the 2019 Best Picture Oscar winner, was racist.
In the end, it always brings me to the point that being against acts of discrimination should be the neutral stance, not public silence or indifference. This is, of course, in large part about respecting athletes as humans with opinions and trying not to limit their speech, but organizations will have an easier time of it if they truly learn not to be behind all the time and really just learn to be anti-racist.
Links of the Day
Six FC Dallas players tested positive for COVID-19 a week before MLS is set to resume.
Wigan went into administration, four weeks after a Hong Kong based consortium took over the club.
Arsenal’s Vivianne Miedma was named FWA footballer of the year.
The Premier League will charge promoted clubs £8m each to help recover losses suffered during the coronavirus pandemic.
Plymouth Argyle supporters are trying to raise £100k for a statue honoring Jack Leslie, one of two Black players in England in the 1920s and considered the best left winger of his time.
Iker Casillas will not return to Porto after his contract expired this week.
A longer read: Sid Lowe on the state of Barcelona as the title begins to slip away and internal discord continues for The Guardian