For USOC, silence wrong road to follow after Coulter slur of Muslim Olympian

For USOC, silence wrong road to follow after Coulter slur of Muslim Olympian

The United States Olympic Committee is deservedly proud for having been named last week as one of this year’s business diversity leaders by Profiles in Diversity Journal, honoring the USOC’s commitment to diversity and inclusion as “a means to achieve business success.”

For the USOC, that commitment can refer to both the athletes who represent the United States at the Olympics, their coaches and the organizational staff hired to support them - in the case of this award, specifically Jason Thompson,  the USOC director for diversity and inclusion.  Athletes, coaches and staff combine to help create the success measured in medals and other noteworthy performances at the Olympics and Paralympics.

That’s why I wish the USOC had done itself even prouder by calling out Ann Coulter for her hateful, racist tweet related to Ibtihaj Muhammad, a black, Muslim woman emblematic of the rich diversity on the 2016 U.S. Olympic team.

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American arrogance? An Olympic bid while Trump tells the rest of the world to get lost

American arrogance? An Olympic bid while Trump tells the rest of the world to get lost

It turns out, thankfully, that Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti will not tailor his conscience to suit the fascism of the times.

(Did I just write fascism instead of fashions?  Must have been a typo.)

In a statement about the Xenophobe-in-Chief’s travel and immigration bans on people from seven predominantly Muslim countries, the most offensive but only the latest of the president’s unconscionable statements or orders, Mayor Garcetti said such action “only fans the flames of hatred that those who wish us harm seek to spread.”

So much for any worry that Garcetti would hold his tongue to curry the Madman-in-Chief’s support for the Los Angeles 2024 Summer Olympic bid.

The time also has come for the United States Olympic Committee to end its silence, no matter that the Third Grader-in-Chief might immediately give his usual “nyah, nyah” response on Twitter and do his best to undermine the Los Angeles bid (which he is doing already.)

And it is high time for the three International Olympic Committee members from the United States – including two women, one an African-American – to show they stand against intolerance. Neither of those two women, Olympians Anita DeFrantz and Angela Ruggiero, has replied to messages seeking comment.  DeFrantz once was courageous enough to defy the U.S. government by publicly criticizing the White House-mandated U.S. boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics.

And time for the IOC, which reaped such goodwill over its refugee team at the 2016 Olympics, to speak out rather than continue to hide behind the shibboleth of not interfering in the governance of sovereign nations.  That IOC already insists Olympic host cities – and by extension, their governments – play by its rules.

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Athletes save the Olympics from their leaders' big lies

Athletes save the Olympics from their leaders' big lies

Oh, how the International Olympic Committee must yearn for the good old days of 1999, when revelations of bribes for bid city votes led to the worst scandal in the hoary (or should that be whorey?) history of the IOC.

Because as bad as that was, 2016 was even worse.

That is a painful irony given that years with an Olympics usually leave enough good recollections to wipe the seamier ones from the public memory bank.

Not so in 2016, even if the underlying point of this column, as it has been in each of the 30 years for which I have given international sports awards, still is to celebrate the best athletes in sports for whom an Olympic gold medal is the ultimate prize.

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Even Losing Her Footing In Defeat, Fencer Muhammad Still Stands Tall

RIO DE JANEIRO – For Ibtihaj Muhammad, this was the long-awaited chapter in a lengthy narrative that had put her in a position of epic significance. It ended with her in an unremarkable position of discomfit, lying on a fencing strip at Carioca Arena 3 in the Olympic Park yet still standing for so much more.


It was just past noon on the third full day of the 2016 Olympics. A little more than an hour earlier, Muhammad had become the first woman in hijab to compete for the United States in an Olympics. That historic moment had been subsumed in her mind by the need to focus on her first match, in the round of 32, which she won 15-13.
 
Now it was match point in the round of 16, and Muhammad had lost her footing. She remained on her backside for the minute of official review before the referee awarded what would be the final point of a 15-12 score to her opponent, Cecilia Berder of France.
 
Down. And quickly out of the tournament for the Olympic saber title, an outcome not unexpected among fencing cognoscenti but unwanted for those who hoped for more exposure of the symbol Muhammad had become.
 
“I wouldn’t say I felt down and out,” Muhammad said. “At the end of the day, I realized that this moment of me in sport and representing my country and the Muslim community is bigger than myself.”

FOR MY WHOLE STORY ON TEAMUSA.ORG, CLICK HERE

Ibtihaj Muhammad’s Olympic Qualification A Ray Of Hope For Muslim-American Women

   Ibtihaj Muhammad poses for a portrait at the 2016 Team U.S. Media Summit on March 9, 2016 in Los Angeles.

Ibtihaj Muhammad poses for a portrait at the 2016 Team U.S. Media Summit on March 9, 2016 in Los Angeles.

LOS ANGELES - Ibtihaj Muhammad was not making a fashion statement. What she wore at the Team USA Media Summit last month in Los Angeles spoke of something much more significant.

She was dressed in blue jeans, a white jacket with a red U.S. Olympic team logo and a charcoal scarf covering her head, ears and neck, lining the oval of her copper-colored face.

It was the scarf that had drawn all the attention. There is an irony in having that dark, monochrome scarf be the attraction, given that Muhammad has such a sense of style she has launched a clothing line full of distinctive apparel in bright colors and intricate patterns.

The scarf, known now as hijab although referred to in the Quran as khimar, is plenty eye-catching in one of Muhammad’s worlds, the world of Olympic sports, where few wear it.

For Muhammad and many Muslim women, hijab is a symbol of both their identity and their spiritual connection to God. And she is soon to be the first U.S. athlete who competes in hijab at the Olympics.

READ THE WHOLE STORY AT TEAMUSA.ORG