Keith Olbermann is back, and he is not mincing words. While he is not touching politics directly, he has begun to take on the issue of how politics impacts sports. Most notably, Olbermann is taking on Russia’s anti-gay laws and the impact they are aving on the Sochi Olympics.
Olbermann spent nine minutes going after Russian President Vladmir Putin, who has been trying, rather desperately, to claim that the anti-gay laws do not discriminate against gay people for a variety of reasons. He especially took the International Olympic Committee to task for their response to the whole issue saying that they are more concerned about money than they are about the athletes heading to Sochi.
The IOC is, indeed, worried about the negative press hitting the Sochi Olympics as several sponsors have started to express concerns to the IOC that the negative press is hitting their bottom lines already, and could seriously hurt them in the future if they continue to support the games.
Olberman did not just go after the backpedaling, but went after just how unjust things can get. He noted that in the 1936 Berlin Olympics “The American team still deferred to Hitler. It pulled Marty Glickman, an American Jew, off the relay team, and within three years Hitler was invading Czechoslovakia while America had an official policy of neutrality and within five years Hitler was in mid genocide.
Olberman also pointed out that, while no actions were taken against anyone at the 1936 Games, bad things still happened in the background. Olbermann stated that while “Owens raced and won, and Hitler didn’t attempt genocide against African-Americans. But Marty Glickman’s relatives in Europe, or those … who were gay, or the intellectuals who publicly supported the victims of those new restrictive laws against one group of people in society? They wound up in the camps.”
Here is the video:
Germany did not go after Blacks because they were such a small percentage of the population. One Black German who grew up under the Nazi regime pointed out that the Nazis had so many people to go after, Blacks ended up pretty far on the list of scapegoats to use.
After hitting the IOC and Russia hard, Olberman then had a chance to talk to Johnny Weir about the upcoming Games. Weir, oddly, was wearing what looked like a Russian-style uniform. The openly gay athlete has said that he is a “true patriot”, but has argued against any kind of boycott of the Olympics because of how it will hurt the Olympians. He has also argued against the boycotts of Russian goods like vodka saying that these hurt the Russian worker.
Weir spends most of the interview kind of backed into a corner and uncomfortable with discussing this issue. Eventually he says “I live in New Jersey, so I’m not even still considered an equal human. I wasn’t considered an equal in this country, so why should I stay away from another country that doesn’t consider me equal, and why should I not show the world what I worked hard for?”
Olbermann then replies “There’s really not much of an answer for that other than your perspective on it.”
Boycotts are dicey things. They often do not work; however, the negative press that has been swirling around the Sochi Olympics seems to indicate that, perhaps, a boycott of the Olympics isn’t a good idea, at least when it comes to the athletes.