Stop the presses. Americans of all racial and political stripes agree that radical sports activism on the international level is bad business. With the Summer Olympics set to start next week and American athletes making noise about social justice protests in Tokyo, a new poll demonstrates they better think twice about any wayward behavior.
The poll was conducted by I&I/TIPP and leaves no doubt about how strongly Americans do not want their athletes acting like idiots at Olympic venues and on victory stands.
Among the people surveyed, 79 percent indicated they oppose disgusting behaviors, such as what took place at the 2019 Pan American Games. It was there that black hammer thrower Gwen Berry raised her fist in defiance during the U.S. national anthem. White fencer Race Imboden knelt (seen in photo) during the Star-Spangled Banner. The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee gave each of them a light tap on the wrist and later announced that athletes could freely protest at this year’s Olympic trials.
Berry jumped at that new opportunity. An alternate on the U.S. women’s track and field team who is now paid for social justice activism by Puma, she turned her back on the flag at the recent U.S. Olympic trials. Saying she won’t stand for any symbol that doesn’t represent all Americans, Berry left open the door for more protest in Tokyo if she competes and medals.
Most significant among the findings of the new poll were these facts: 61 percent of black Americans and 69 percent of Hispanic Americans said professional athletes need to publicly respect the American flag on the international level.
Not surprisingly, 93 percent of Republicans and conservatives agree that American athletes should respectfully represent their country at home and abroad. Nearly three in four Democrats – 72 percent – go along with that, as do 60 percent of liberals. No culture war here. Among self-identifying centrists and independents, 81 percent and 74 percent respectfully agree on the importance of Americans not shaming their country at sports events.
Younger Americans are much more accepting of social justice protest in sports. Just 49 percent think athletes should behave respectfully in the presence of the U.S. flag and the playing of the national anthem. Thirty-nine percent don’t believe in respectful behavior.
We’ll soon know whether or not our athletes are going to honor or disrespect America at the upcoming Olympics. One of them gave credible cause for concern. Chelsea Wolfe, a “trans” man who qualified as an Olympic alternate for the U.S. women’s BMX team, said, “My goal is to win the Olympics so I can burn a US flag on the podium.”
If Wolfe, Berry or any other American athletes act atrociously in Tokyo, they can expect to have a sympathetic media corps behind them. But that’s where it will end. Few Americans will put up with any unpatriotic protests, and that’s good to know.