Alison Macbeth-Anchor Contributor
This past Friday as Team USA marched in South Korea’s Olympic Parade of the Nations, a familiar face was missing – Shani Davis. Competing in his fifth Winter Olympics, Davis, 35, has already achieved great things. Not only is he the first African American to make the U.S. speedskating team, but he also is the first black Winter Olympian to win an individual gold medal.
While the Winter Olympics continue to be an overwhelmingly white occasion, it’s refreshing to see Team USA expanding in its diversity. Yet, Davis wasn’t there representing this diversity at the Opening Ceremony. There were rumors that Davis had training, but an earlier tweet on Thursday indicated a different reason.
When the U.S. Olympic officials announced that Davis had lost the coin flip to be the U.S. flag bearer at the opening ceremony, Davis took the opportunity to express this “dishonorable” act of Team USA on Twitter.
He included #BlackHistoryMonth at the end of his tweet with “No problem. I can wait until 2022.”
Let’s get this straight. In each of the eight Olympic federations – biathlon, bobsled and skeleton, curling, hockey, figure skating, ski and snowboarding, luge, and speedskating – Team USA members vote for their choice of nominee. If there is a tie, then a coin toss determines the flagbearer.
Davis lost a 4-4 tie to a white woman, Erin Hamlin, who is a four-time Olympian and the first U.S. woman to win a medal in the Olympic history of the luge. Is that “dishonorable”?
Last Winter Olympics it was Davis who complained about the skating suits saying it caused the U.S. speedskating team’s failure. At the same time, Davis is known for training separately from his team. Although Davis’ motivation and success are an inspiring addition to Team USA, his attitude is outshining his achievements.
I’m sorry Davis didn’t get to be the flagbearer in order to carry on the legacy of Black History Month. But Davis, please don’t pollute #BlackHistoryMonth with your complaining. The coin toss is an Olympic standard to break a tie.
It was fair and honorable – and I’m sure Davis wouldn’t be calling this Olympic decision dishonorable if he had won. Plus, who said he couldn’t be the flagbearer for the closing ceremony?