Gwen Berry came in 3rd in the recent US Olympic trials for women’s hammer throwing, becoming qualified to represent her country in Japan this August. Feeling “pissd off”, she turned her back on the flag while the National Anthem was playing. Instantly achieving the intended notoriety, Ms. Berry has been alternately praised and pounced upon; I doubt she cares which, as long as she gets the desired lucrative attention. Attention that has eluded both of the women who stood facing the flag, hands over their hearts, and came in 1st and 2nd.
Our society rewards being pisssed off more than performance, protest over production, and notoriety over being noteworthy.
That is the subject of today’s 10 minute episode.
In case you didn’t hear, Deanna Price won 1st place and Brooke Anderson earned 2nd place in these trials for women’s hammer throwing. They have been completely overshadowed by Berry’s contrived protest. This episode celebrates Ms. Price and Ms. Anderson, and oh-so-many other Americans who keep their heads down, honor their country in obvious situations as when the Anthem is being played, and in their everyday lives by being respectful, hard wording and getting their jobs done. Quietly.
Ms. Barry has proudly posed with the flag in the past, holding it up and behind her, framing herself in the middle of a large version of Old Glory. Smiling all the while. And absent both the recent gaudy makeup and “Activist Athlete” t-shirt. Gwen Berry is sadly correct in discovering that posing as a protesting athlete, an “Activist Athlete,” would be rewarded with dramatically more notoriety, including loud applause in many places, than simply working harder and winning her event. Let’s hear directly from Ms. Berry herself. After turning her back on the flag, Berry said that she felt like the National Anthem playing while she happened to be on a podium was a “set up.” The music had been played once per evening at the trials. On the day in question, it started while Berry was standing on the podium after receiving a bronze medal in the hammer throw. Disgruntled, Berry placed her left hand on her hip and fidgeted before turning to face the stands instead of the US flag. As the song came to a close, Berry pulled up her black T-shirt with the words “Activist Athlete” emblazoned on the front to cover her head. “I feel like it was a setup, and they did it on purpose,” Berry said of the timing of the anthem. I call BS. How unusual is it that the Anthem is played when the winning athletes are on the podium? It played right into her hands, allowing her to go into her act. Berry has no chance to medal in Japan. She now has every chance to continue to get the desired attention and make money–her real goals. Intentionally taking advantage of the race-baiting environment created by so many to play her blackness against the winners’ whiteness. How far have we sunk that race is an issue in any kind of performance measurement or evaluation?
Let’s step back from the women’s hammer throw trials and look around the US.
- In professional basketball, viewership has been falling like a rock, with the NBA down 25% from 2019. People are getting tired of being pummelled with slogans on jerseys and during the games, and the perpetuated, “Hands up, don’t shoot,” myth. Where are the stories about the parents who, tired as they may be, shoot baskets with their aspiring athlete children for an hour after dinner? And the woefully underpaid coaches who are a vital part of raising our nation’s youth? They labor year after year, with their greatest reward being the occasional athlete who contacts them years later to say, “Thanks, coach. You made a difference.”
- The same is true of professional football, with a falloff of 20% in the NFL since 2015, where you would naturally have expected an increase. And it is not just the kneeling that people find off putting; it is the apparent acceptance of domestic violence, even in extreme cases, if the athlete in question is valuable to the team. Again missing are any stories about parental sacrifice and dedicated coaches in youth football. And those stories are legion, far, far outnumbering the cases of rewarded bad actor athletes.
- Teaching. Various teachers’ unions and their leaders continue to make news with their posing and posturing. Everything from pretending to want schools to reopen while doing all they can to keep them locked down, to fighting competition as if their very lives depended upon keeping their profession as much of a monopoly as possible. Their lives do not depend on restricting competition, but their jobs do. And they know it. All of this dangerous nonsense is played up while those with their heads down getting their jobs done are ignored. The school bus drivers, dealing with energetic, sometimes unruly, kids–and in all kinds of weather. The school cops, working to keep their schools safe, connecting with the students, on short pay while being criticized by some as unnecessary at best, and being the Gestapo at worst. The parents who try to help their kids with math homework, even though they did not do well in math themselves. Trying to give a balanced view of topics like Critical Race Theory and the 1619 Project while not seeming to undermine the teachers. And driving to endless games, lessons and practices. Endless. The teachers who spend extra hours in the evening helping students, paying for supplies out of their own pockets, and enduring increasing administrative interference for the love of teaching their kids.
- Government. Increasingly we have a government of the government, by the government and for the government. The people have become pawns in the game the politicians play to realize their personal and political ambitions. Those stories, mostly instances and events where one side is accusing the other, are all over the media each and every day. Where are the stories of the government worker bees who get their jobs done and done well, only to go home to a different set of chores and challenges? These people are more numerous and definitely more valuable than the self-centered politicians.
While we are at it, what about:
- The truck drivers who deliver gas to the stations where we drive in and expect to be able to fill up?
- The laborer who picked our coffee beans?
- The fruit pickers who do hard labor for less than $30K a year, delivering the cornucopia we are offered at the grocery store?
- The person in the back room of the dry cleaner?
- The every week volunteer at our places of worship?
- And who cleans the grease traps at our favorite fast food places?
You get the idea. And for the Revolution 2.0™ regulars, my guess is that you are one of the unsung heroes, one of my heroes. And you know many more. Please call out their names in the comments or in your review. I’ll start. “After years of hard training and more than a few disappointments, Deanna Price won 1st place and Brooke Anderson earned second at the recent US Olympic trials in Eugene, OR, in women’s hammer throwing. Both have demonstrated how very proud they are to represent the USA in Japan this August. Congratulations Deanna and Brooke!” Yes, say their names.
Today’s Key Point: We devote way too much time, money and energy on the opportunistically offended, and not nearly enough time on the majority who are focused, hard working and getting their jobs done.Where do you stand? What are you going to do? Remember, it does not matter where you stand if you don’t do anything. You can start by subscribing to these episodes, and encouraging others to subscribe with you.
As always, whatever you do, do it in love. Without love, anything we do is empty. 1 Corinthians 16:14
As we get ready to wrap up, please do respond in the episodes with comments or questions about this episode or anything that comes to mind, or connect with me on Twitter, @willluden, Facebook, facebook.com/will.luden, and LinkedIn, www.linkedin.com/in/willluden/. And you can subscribe on your favorite device through Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify and wherever you listen to podcasts.
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Will Luden, coming to you from 7,200’ in Colorado Springs.
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