Monday, June 23, 2008

Quick Rant: Olympics

The 2008 U.S. Olympic Basketball Team will be announced later today (I will have my thoughts on the team when it is announced).

The reason for this rant, however, is the recent news of WNBA basketball player Becky Hammon deciding to play basketball for the Russian Olympic Team.

I have tried to look up information on this, but I could not find any in time, so I will have to use just what I can remember. But, I remember a few years ago that Shawn Bradley - a United States citizen - played (or tried to play) for the German squad in the Olympics and there was no uproar about this.

Hammon, who plays professionally in Russia during the WNBA offseason, however has been getting some serious flack about her decision. Anne Donovan, a former basketball player and coach, has basically called Hammon a 'traitor' or 'unpatriotic' due to her decision.

My only question is this: Where was the outrage to all of the other athletes who have participated for other countries?

Hammon has stated that she only decided to tryout for the Russian squad after she had been repeatedly passed over by the U.S. Olympic team.

The main reason, in my opinion, for the outrage now is that Hammon is an outstanding player. She was one of the finalists for last season's WNBA MVP award. But, for some reason, she wasn't given a fair shake at representing her own country. So, who's at fault?

Where was the outrage when Hakeem Olajuwan - a native of Nigera - became a U.S. citizen so he could participate in the 1996 Olympics. Olajuwan earns his keep, and lives, mostly in the United States, so he should be able to become a citizen and represent his new country. But, Hammon also makes a good living in Russia - and spends a good part of her year living there. Why the hypocrisy?

The Cold War is over people. Russia is an ally of ours. Give it a rest.

If the powers that be wanted Hammon to be a part of the U.S. team, or at least would have given her a fair shot, this wouldn't even be an issue. But they didn't, and Hammon wants to be an Olympian. So she will try with another country. Will she be upset if the U.S. wins? I highly doubt that - unless of course it's against her.

So lay off the girl. She has the opportunity to take part in something magical in her life - something each one of us would love to partake in. Would she rather be waving the American flag? No doubt - but she wasn't given the chance.

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