We're on the verge of the greatest event in sports.
After COVID derailed the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which were originally scheduled to be held last summer, nations around the globe are holding Olympic Trials and teams who will compete are holding their final tune up games to prepare for the Games, which begin with the opening ceremony on July 23.
There's rarely a time in sports that can unify entire nations and showcase the best of our athletes against the world's greatest.
On Monday night, the USA Women's National soccer team faced Mexico in a Friendly that was held in East Hartford, Connecticut and there was no shortage of fireworks.
Team USA easily disposed of Mexico, 4-0, and looks primed to be a favorite in Tokyo.
Prior to the game's kickoff, however, the national anthem for both countries was played, highlighted by World War II veteran Pete Dupre's rendition of the Star Spangled Banner on a harmonica.
Leaving no opportunity wasted, several members of Team USA turned their back to the World War II veteran while was playing in protest of police violence.
It begs to ask the question—is this the first of many “protests” that we'll see in the Olympics?
Certainly there is a time and a place for protesting, but one can't help but point out the irony, if not blatant hypocrisy, of protesting a nation you're representing on a global stage.
On one hand, DuPre fought and bled during our nation's greatest conflict for the very right to protest.
Free speech is the ultimate gift to U.S. Citizens and that free speech was on full display Monday night in East Hartford.
On the other hand, what sense does it make to protest the nation you're representing, while collecting a paycheck from said country, with the potential to bring home Olympic gold?
By no means should athletes be barred from speaking their mind, whether in protest or support, of any topic or issue prevalent in society.
But there's a time and a place for everything.
The Olympics are a time and place to unify a nation behind one's banner and support them in their endeavor of greatness.
Turning away from the flag, even so small a gesture, is sure to generate controversy and not exactly cast athletes in the best of lights.
If members of a team are doing it, then all need to do it.
The notion of putting one's views ahead of a team's perception is flat out ludicrious.
Luckily, veterans like DuPre have given so much for this nation for people to be allowed to turn away from a flag.
There are certain countries in the world who would view such a protest as an act of treason.
I'm still going to support Team USA one way or another because I bleed Red, White and Blue.
Do I agree with the act of protest? That's a debate for another time.
On the Olympic stage, our athletes should be participating in acts of unison, not division.
Either way, we'll surely see more as the Games get underway in a few weeks.
Chris Siers is sports editor of the Tribune. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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