Feb 19 2006

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Some Sympathy for Shani Davis


If anyone watched the 1000 meter Olympic skating event last night they must have noticed that Shani Davis had an unusually sour attitude in his first interview, for a man who had just won the Gold medal. It is amazing how important that first impression is, especially when it is seen by 1 billion people. The cost to his professional reputation and to his present and potential sponsorship opportunities was catastrophic. But based on the million obstacles he must of overcome to have won the Gold Medal, I can understand how some resentment towards a few of his team mates and a lot of personal pride over his achievement, could have effected his immediate facial and verbal expressions minutes after accomplishing a historical achievement. Most medal winners usually grin and babble breathlessly during their first immediate interview after winning. Shani Davis seemed far more intense and composed in his first interview, seeming more threatening to the camera than dough faced white boy with rosy red cheeks and a prep school smile. Shani was real and intense and he won. All else is a white man’s worry.

I can’t imagine the immense pressure he was under and the obvious disappointment of his American rivals who should go unmentioned. Davis received hate mail and threats and only he knows what other insults he received probably from his own team mates and the wonder bread Americans he valiantly won the Gold Medal for. I hope he does well in the rest of the Olympics. I will be rooting for him. I heard that Apollo Onho is one of Davis’s best friends, I like Apollo , and if he likes Davis why shouldn’t I. I do not know either men personally. I hope Shani Davis has a long championship career and is rightfully welcomed in the ranks of the legends like Jesse Owens; who first broke the Olympic color barrier as a Gold Medalist.

I guess it just proves that racism and jealously will always rear their ugly heads regardless of the occasion; but the young Mr. Davis would be well advised to keep more of a poker face or a perma smile on his face during all interviews. Maybe Apollo can teach him, he’s very good at it. I am disappointed with the American team for not supporting Davis. It reminds me of the hatred Jackie Robinson experienced when he broke the color barrier in pro baseball. I thought American white athletes had evolved a little more in the last 50 years, in accepting black athletes in white dominated sports? I hope they have, because I think the world will be seeing much more of Shani Davis and other black athletes in future Winter Olympics.


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