by Jasmine Shelton, Managing Editor-Eagle’s Eye Online
The national anthem, the theme song for America. That one song that every American knows, the one song that begins EVERY sporting event, a song that was played 46 times at the Rio 2016 Olympics. The Olympics have always and will always be a big deal. It’s the coming together of all the world’s countries to compete for medals. In the United States the most watched Olympic Sports, according to topendsports.com were gymnastics, track and field and swimming.
The 2016 Rio Summer Olympics gave the world plenty to talk about, from Michael Phelps winning five gold and one silver medal, to Ryan Locke’s run with Brazilian law, to Simone Biles winning four gold and one bronze gymnastic medals. One of the more interesting stories was one about three time gymnastic gold medalist Gabby Douglas. The story was about how Douglas did not put her hand over her heart during the medal presentation of the gymnastics team final. The story itself shows how shallow and picky Americans are about things that don’t necessarily matter. There are some Americans that believe that the national anthem is important and should be respected.
“I think that the national anthem is a big deal and that putting your hand over your heart during it is the respectful thing to do,” sophomore Arthur Williams said.
Douglas does not need to be seen as a disrespectful American, or seen as someone who doesn’t represent the country that she comes from. This national wasn’t about an honest mistake, it wasn’t seen as a joke, or a story that was popular all of one news cycle. This story was simply about race. Douglas was not the only athlete to not show the “proper respect” to the country by not putting her hands over her heart, but she was the only athlete to be badgered and beaten down by the news and on social media.
Gold and silver shot put athletes Ryan Crouser and John Kovacs, both caucasian men were shown failing to put their hands over their hearts during their medal presentation ceremony. These athletes were seen to be premier American athletes, their personal stories were played in primetime. After their presentation of the medals, it would be expected that their names and faces would be all over the news and social media, but they were not. This is not the only example of this discrimination against Douglas.
2nd Lt. of the Army Reserves Sam Kendricks’ pole vaulting was a trending moment on Facebook. Kendricks was running to complete an Olympic vault when he heard the national anthem playing and stopped mid-run and stood stock still as the anthem finished. He stood stock still with his hands on his side not over his heart, once again we have a caucasian male not paying “proper respect” to their country and having nothing happen to them. They weren’t called unpatriotic, and their character wasn’t defaced. The one and only difference between these men and this young woman is race. The argument over the national anthem has become one that has been getting a lot of traction,after the numerous African American deaths due to police brutality. The arguments all argue over the idea of equality for all people in this country. While some people still believe that the national anthem a symbol that unites this country, others don’t think that standing at attention during the anthem is necessarily required.
“I personally don’t think that it’s required. I don’t think that Gabby was in the wrong for not putting her hand over her heart,” junior Kendra Sanders-Baskins said. “At least she acknowledged that the anthem was playing. I don’t think that it’s a big deal anymore.”
Gabby Douglas is an African American athlete that made one simple mistake, and had to suffer the consequences of her actions because of the color of her skin. The basics of this story is not about mistakes, it’s about discrimination.
“ I don’t think that Gabby was wrong, especially if this country hasn’t given us what we were promised,” junior Lena Jackson said. “She accidentally didn’t put her hand there, I will never put my hand over my heart and that’ll be on purpose.”