DY: In Just a Few Words (#71)
Gotta say, I am a little sad this week.
This has not been a good few days for the concept of role models.
Does the name Eteri Tutberidze ring a bell? She was just “doing her job” as coach of the Russian Olympic Committee skating team when she coldly asked a distraught 15-year-old skater after she underperformed, “Why did you stop fighting? Explain it to me, why?”
Is that the coach you would want for your child? And, isn’t a 15-year-old skater still a child? Kids should look up to their coaches as role models. Is this role model behavior? Her two teammates (who captured gold and silver medals) were equally distraught at the situation - and also receiving no comfort from adults.
Folks, you don’t have to hit a kid to commit child abuse. If that coach’s reaction to imperfection isn’t child abuse, then what is? For the rest of her life, Kamila Valieva will carry the scars from her Olympic humiliation in front of millions of viewers. She needed a hug. That didn’t happen.
This child is a victim of a national athletic culture that is corrupt. Some adult gave her the drug that caused a positive drug test. Kamila didn’t go out and buy it from a school friend.
Now and forever she will carry the stigma of drug cheat. Let us not forget that the designation ROC (Russian Olympic Committee) came about in 2019 because of a Russian state-sponsored doping scandal. Included in that punishment is that the Russian flag is not included in Olympic competition. You can still compete. Just don’t show your flag. What a joke. What a slap on the wrist.
I usually try to inject humor into my blogs. Not this week. I’m upset. There is nothing humorous about what happened to that 15-year-old child before and during the Olympics. For those who made her a victim, shame on you.
And then there is University of Michigan men’s basketball coach Juwan Howard’s performance after a Michigan/Wisconsin basketball game on Sunday. Nothing humorous there either. We teach our kids that “hands are for hugging, not hitting” and then a Big Ten coach hits another Big Ten coach on national television. Where was any role model behavior there? I commend the University of Michigan for their quick action in suspending Howard for the remainder of the regular season, and the Big Ten Conference for fining both Howard and Wisconsin coach Greg Gard (whose behavior was also deemed inappropriate). But let’s not forget there was not one single shred of remorse from Howard until after his punishment was handed out. It makes me wonder if that was part of his punishment. Did he really mean it when he said “I am truly sorry”? Time will tell.
There, I have said my piece. The plan is to return to my usual lighthearted missives next week. I sure hope nothing happens in the next few days to change my mind.
DY: In Just a Few Words is a blog that comes out when something needs to be said or every Tuesday - whichever comes first. Davis Young is a communications professional who adds 50+ years of experience and perspective to issues of the day. His emphasis in DY: In Just a Few Words will be humor (a touch of sarcasm here, a pinch of facetiousness there...). Once in a while, he will touch on something a bit more serious - but hopefully not too deep or depressing.
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