Proud to be American after Beijing-Maybe not

By L.A. Batchelor
Updated: August 28, 2008

NORTH CAROLINA — The Olympics officially ended last weekend and like many other times, the United States led the way with more overall medals while the Chinese finished second overall but first in Gold medals.

Yes, we had the thrill of the Michael Phelps story, “THE REDEEM TEAM” in men’s basketball winning the Gold, the women’s basketball team quietly dominating all the way to the Gold and many other success stories to talk about and be proud of.

We also had the disappointments from the land of the free when you think of the U.S. women’s softball team losing to Japan and only capturing Silver after dominating the sport and the Olympics for so long.

Also, the U.S. men and women track disqualifications, which cost both squads the shot at Gold in their perspective meets, and James Blake’s loss to what many would describe as a lesser opponent after a thrilling upset win over Roger Federer.

All of these stories are still being talked about that followed the games from Beijing. One important story was never told or discussed and should have and that is the human rights violations of China and the continued atrocities that are taking place in Darfur.

It’s amazing that this country wants our athletes to represent the country in the Olympics with class, dignity and compete at a high level, yet we show no class, dignity and care to so many in China and Darfur who have their human rights violated daily.

Imprisonment, censorship and even death are some of the horrific consequences facing many in these countries and yet our government turns there head and closes there eyes to these crimes of humanity and keeps their eyes on the prize — Olympic Gold.

Do these human violations occur in other countries? Surely they do, but with the games taking place in China and with the lack of intervention in Darfur, I felt compelled to keep the focus on them.

Are there other countries that turn their back on these crimes of humanity as well? Yes, but I live in the U.S. therefore it hurts more knowing your country seemingly doesn’t care what happens to so many daily.

It hurts even more when this country is considered by most in the world to set the tone for all the good in the world when you talk about freedom, opportunities and human rights.

Two of our top athletes attempted to show some character and leadership on this issue, but were silent before the games began. Kobe Bryant spoke to the media prior to the men’s basketball team arrival in Beijing expressing his outrage of the killing and slaughter of thousands in Dar fur and how people should speak out, stand up and denounce the evil taking place there.

LeBron James actually did a commercial condemning the actions taking place there as well, but neither showed the courage, leadership and made their voices heard when they planted there feet on China soil.

I know all of the athletes sign a waiver or document stating they will not take any political views or express any political agendas while competing their or face banishment from the game.

But Kobe and LeBron fail to realize that the star power they have to speak out and make a difference in something is so very important to many. Would the U.S. and the IOC really risk the chance of having the world’s greatest athletes competing in the Olympics even if the athletes spoke out against human rights violations?

If you want proof of how the world’s super athletes dictate the Olympics, look no further than baseball. America’s so-called “pastime” has been kicked out of the Olympics forever or until Major League Baseball allows there top players to compete in the Olympics so says the IOC president himself.

Even softball will no longer be in the games because of the pure dominance of the U.S. women annihilating the competition for so long. How ironic is it that in the last Olympics for the sport the U.S. loses the Gold medal game to Japan.

Other countries have athletes that the Olympic committee would love to have compete every four years because like any competitive sporting event, they want the best competing against the best on the world’s biggest stage.

The world’s greatest athletes, in particular the U.S. athletes need to know there voice, stance and condemnation among other things are as powerful as the evil leaders who commit these Haynes crimes against humanity.

It’s time for athletes in this country in the powerful position that they are in many cases, to take a stand, to speak up and speak out and get involved both in lending there name, there time and even money in some cases to help many who suffer in China, Darfur and around the world.

Who knows how many men and women who die in this country who want to be one of the elite standing on the podium at the medal ceremony accepting a medal for there country and proud of doing so.

We all as a country and human race need to lend a helping hand and get our priorities in order. Should we be happy for the U.S. athletes who brought home the gold, silver or bronze and represented our country with class and professionalism both as an individual and as a team?

Sure, but just imagine how proud we can be of those same athletes if they would speak out against the killing that continues in China, Darfur and around the world.