Racism

(Note: I wrote this post in response to a Fox News opinion piece that was so shameful Fox News took it down. But if you want to read it you will find the text at the bottom of the post)

John Moody, EVP and Executive Editor at Fox News, is upset that the US Winter Olympic team isn’t as white as it once was. He is under the impression that the USOC is picking athletes (link removed by Fox, text available at the bottom of the page) just to fill racial and sexual orientation quotas.

“Unless it’s changed overnight, the motto of the Olympics, since 1894, has been ‘Faster, Higher, Stronger.’ It appears the U.S. Olympic Committee would like to change that to ‘Darker, Gayer, Different.’ If your goal is to win medals, that won’t work.”

He bases this absurd belief on a report in the Washington Post: “Trying to make Team USA look more like America” in which the USOC expressed pride that the US team was more diverse, even though it still wasn’t as diverse as America.

“We’re not quite where we want to be,” said Jason Thompson, the USOC’s director of diversity and inclusion. “. . . I think full-on inclusion has always been a priority of Team USA. I think everybody’s always felt it should represent every American.”

But nowhere does the USOC say it isn’t selecting the best current athletes. Nor does Moody give one example of a lesser athlete offered a place on the team because he’s black, Hispanic, Asian or gay. The point is rendered even more ridiculous as many of the athletes are selected based on time — which is (duh) colorblind.

Moody’s hysteria is not supported by the numbers. Among the 243 athletes on the team, only ten are African-American, ten more are Asian-American, and two athletes are openly gay.

The thrust of the WaPo article was that the USOC considers its mission is to recruit minority youth to sports that have traditionally been ‘white only’. And if you broaden your recruiting pool it is only going to increase your chances of winning medals. A position that is opposite to Moody’s ill-considered claim.

Minorities in America face discrimination. And sports is no exception. And I challenge Moody to give one example where including minorities has diminished a team. He can’t because it hasn’t happened.

There was a time when the standard wisdom was that blacks couldn’t master the QB position, or play golf and tennis or swim. Tell that to Tiger Woods, the Williams sisters, or Simone Manuel. They are the tip of the iceberg. Can you imagine how many other blacks would excel if they were given the opportunity? Quite simply, that is all the USOC is trying to do.

But Moody can’t see it that way. The old white guard has it in mind that any policy designed to give someone a leg up, to reach for talent outside the usual pool, is discriminating against whites. That people deserve their lot in life no matter their circumstances. That if God had intended for blacks to be good skiers, then there would magically be more Olympic-quality, black skiers.

But the lack of black skiers at the highest level is merely a reflection of the lack of black skiers at the lowest level.  I guarantee that if minority kids skied at the same rate as white kids, the US ski team would be as diverse as the country. And better than it is now. And isn’t that a noble goal?

Talent is where it exists. Can you imagine sending a US team to the Summer Olympics without any black athletes? It would be unimaginably stupid. Soccer was once the province of South Americans and white Europeans. Now the world’s best players include many Africans. And Asians are starting to make their mark. Who knows, given an opportunity, maybe even Americans might make it to the top.

Update: Fox News has pulled Moody’s column. Put here it is:

In Olympics, let’s focus on the winner of the race — not the race of the winner.

By John Moody | Fox News

Unless it’s changed overnight, the motto of the Olympics, since 1894, has been “Faster, Higher, Stronger.” It appears the U.S. Olympic Committee would like to change that to “Darker, Gayer, Different.” If your goal is to win medals, that won’t work.

A USOC official was quoted this week expressing pride (what else?) about taking the most diverse U.S. squad ever to the Winter Olympics. That was followed by a, frankly, embarrassing laundry list of how many African-Americans, Asians and openly gay athletes are on this year’s U.S. team. No sport that we are aware of awards points – or medals – for skin color or sexual orientation.

For the current USOC, a dream team should look more like the general population. So, while uncomfortable, the question probably needs to be asked: were our Olympians selected because they’re the best at what they do, or because they’re the best publicity for our current obsession with having one each from Column A, B and C?

Some breakthroughs in American sports were historic, none more so than Jackie Robinson’s in baseball. But Robinson didn’t make the Majors because he was black. His legendary career occurred in an age of outright racial discrimination, because he was better at the game than almost everyone around him.

If someone is denied a slot on a team because of prejudice, that’s one thing. Complaining that every team isn’t a rainbow of political correctness defeats the purpose of sports, which is competition.

As my Fox News colleague Ed Henry wrote in his excellent book, “42 Faith: The Rest of the Jackie Robinson Story,” Robinson was not a kvetcher. “Don’t complain, work harder,” was his approach to the game, and the game of life.

Jeremy Lin, who played basketball at Harvard before joining the New York Knicks, did not become a media hero – remember “Linsanity?” – due to his Chinese heritage, but because he almost single-handedly turned around the struggling Knicks in 2012, and had fans delirious over his graceful shots and calm under pressure.

Back in 1993, when, it seems, America still had a sense of humor, the movie “Cool Runnings” portrayed a Jamaican bobsled team whose members willed themselves to compete in the 1988 Winter Olympics. Why was their feat noteworthy? Um … no snow in Jamaica, not racial prejudice.

That same year, Michael Edwards riveted world attention to the ski jumping competition. Didn’t matter that he finished last. “Eddie the Eagle,” as he was known, came from Great Britain, which also doesn’t get much snow and whose highest elevation is 4,400 feet. Ski off that hill and you’re more likely to land in sheep dung.

Insisting that sports bow to political correctness by assigning teams quotas for race, religion or sexuality is like saying that professional basketball goals will be worth four points if achieved by a minority in that sport – white guys, for instance –  instead of the two or three points awarded to black players, who make up 81 percent of the NBA. Any plans to fix that disparity? Didn’t think so.

If someone is denied a slot on a team because of prejudice, that’s one thing. Complaining that every team isn’t a rainbow of political correctness defeats the purpose of sports, which is competition. At the Olympic level, not everyone is a winner. Not everyone gets a little plastic trophy to take home.

Sorry. “Faster, Higher, Stronger” still works better than “We win because we’re different.”

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