Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Davis v. Hedrick

In Houston, the media gives you the impression that Chad Hedrick is a golden boy of speed skating. That he is some sort of prodigy that has arrived in the speed skating arena to claim his rightful victory. At the beginning of the Winter Olympics, there was much to do made about the fact that he only just picked up ice skating, switching from inline skating, after having been inspired by Derek Parra in 2002. It is an accomplishment that he is skating in the Olympics four years later. I know how to roller blade, but I don't think I could pick up a pair of ice skates and be in the Olympics in 2010, you know.

Shani Davis, on the other hand, has been ice skating and competing on the ice since he was 6 and according to his website has been skating on ice for 17 years. Now I can't comment on who's a better skater or who had a tougher time making it to the Olympics and so on, but it is apparent to me that the US media is making a big deal out of the fact that Davis is black and excelling in a sport that until now, has had no black contenders. The Houston media is unashamedly pro team Hedrick as he's from the area. They are making a big stink about Davis not wanting to skate the team pursuit and therefore dashing Hedrick's chance at going for 5 gold medals.

What they don't tell you is that all skaters have to submit paperwork to the US governing body by Dec 31, 2005 telling them what events they intend to skate. Davis never even intended to skate that event and was only asked to join one week prior to the event. If he had skated on the team pursuit, he would have taken away another US athlete's opportunity to skate at the Olympics.

Davis is not the first athlete to undergo such scrutiny in the media. The Williams sisters and Tiger Woods also went through the same type of coverage whereby their race was reported on first before their talent or skill was considered legitimate.

Today I read an article with the headline, "Gold medalist Davis suing Chicago". I thought wow, he's from Chicago, why would he be suing his hometown. Well, come to find out, the article is about a lawsuit filed against the former police superintendent in 2003 about an incident in 2001. The lawsuit alleges that Shani and two other men were stopped by police because of their skin color.


Of course this lawsuit would not even be reported about in the national media, had Davis not been a medal winning Olympic athlete who just happens to be black and currently in media frabicated feud with a white athlete.

I don't think Davis is against the US skating team. I'm sure he has had issues with the US Skating governing body, he makes no bones about that. But at the same time, what athlete is going to say to his team mate, "Hey man, why don't you take the gold, I'll get it next time"? Come on, it's the Olympics! Hedrick showed his poor sportsmanship after the 1500m race when he scowled off the ice after winning bronze.

I'm rooting for the US team in any sport this Winter Olympics as obviously there is no Singapore contingent, but it's just too bad that the guy that I was rooting for in the beginning, the guy from where I live too, turned out to be such a jerk.


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