Much has been made of late as to the ongoing ramifications of the very fact that WNBA player Becky Hammon has chosen to play for Russia at the upcoming Beijing Olympics. Hammon’s patriotism has come into question and that of her loyalty to her country.
Becky Hammon playing for the San Antonio Silver Stars of the WNBA . picture courtesy of wnba.com/ontheroad/…….
I for one view Hammon’s decision as no different from someone who goes out to chase an opportunity for financial gain. As it is , she’s not selling state secrets that are of national security and therefore that’ll prove fateful for this country. What she’s indeed doing is to ply her trade to the highest bidder. In this case it’s Russia. Were it anyone else I seriously doubt that there’d be this furore arising from this. But there are some amongst us who still view the country as one vast evil Empire that’s still out to spread Communism to all corners of the globe.
Bernard Lagat of the United States who was born and raised in Kenya. Lagat competed in the Athens Olympics for Kenya at the 1500m and won the silver medal there. He’s now seen as the presumptive favorite for this year’s title at the Olympics. picture courtesy of oregonlive.com/trackanfield/2007/osaka …………….
Well considering that the Iron Curtain has now fallen and the Berlin Wall is nothing more than afterthought to many. The talk of being unpatriotic and allegations of a traitor on the part of Hammon, is something that I view with a great deal of cynicism and being outright farcical. As with anything thought of being somewhat being done surreptitiously . Albeit that Hammon is being granted citizenship by the Russians in order that she can compete in the Beijing Olympics. This is no different to athletes that’ve been given the same sort of benefit here in the United States whereby they’ve foregone their birthright to take up citizenship of another country to compete at the international level for another country.
Marathon runner Meb Kelfizighi whose silver medal at the Olympic games in 2004 was a deserving one. Here he’s seen competing in a road race the Quad City Times Bix 7. Kelfizighi born and raised in Kenya was granted citizenship to the United States ten years ago. picture courtesy of quadcitytimes.com/sports/bix 7
This has been done for a number of years by not only the United States but by several countries around the world in a litany of other high and low profiled sports. Furthermore when the best and brightest of minds are lured away from abroad to be of benefit to this country . We hear no apparent outcry but yet when it comes to an athletic endeavor . It’d appear that many it is their right to question a person’s right to make decision as to what is best for them at that particular time.
Khalid Khannouchi (left) the former world record holder in the marathon who was originally born in Morocco, but is now an American citizen. picture courtesy of fingerfoodfile.wordpress.com/sports/athletics/khannouch……………..
Khannouchi’s citizenship was fast tracked through the INS by none other than New York senator Charles Schumer (D-NY). We shouldn’t feel aggrieved by the fact that this senator was behind this. But it does set aside precedence with regard to others who seek political asylum legitimately. In the case of Khannouchi he was granted his citizenship as nothing more than the fact he was deemed as a special need for the mere fact of his prodigious talent as an athlete. It wasn’t done out of necessity for a need.
A young Cassius Clay (center) stands atop of the podium having just won the gold medal in the light heavyweight division at the 1960 Rome Olympics. Having returned home and then seeking a professional career in the ranks of boxing. Clay’s career was later derailed by the US government as he was stripped of the heavyweight title and sentenced to six years in prison for his refusal to serve in the military at the height of the Vietnam War. That judgement was later overturned by the Supreme Court in 1972 , some five years after the original verdict. Perceived as something akin to a traitor at the time , Clay was later forgiven in some circles. But in the eyes of many he’s still seen as a pariah. picture courtesy of bbc.co.uk/sports/boxing/olympics/1960
Professionals from all walks of life are granted patronage within this country and are afforded the chance to practice a vocation at various levels, from lawyers to doctors to scientists, to college professors and other fields of endeavor. Many in the end choose to give up their birthright and become an American citizen. No outcry there if it’s to the benefit of this country by those who’ll benefit from it. Which is in effect the whole country at large in one form or another. But yet there are those who’d opine and say what is being done by Hammon is reprehensible and tarnishes the country and what it stands for.
So before we think about going out to tar and feather Hammon. Don’t you think that we ought to get our priorities straight first ? OK so an international basketball game was lost to the Russians some thirty six years ago. Hasn’t the Dream Team made up for that escapade since then ? And as far as I can remember this game we so dearly love to call the game that the whole world wants to see the Americans do so well in has now become something of a global phenomenon. The United States in hockey prevailed over the mighty Russians in the Olympic games under the tutelage of then coach Herb Brooks. If nothing else this is bordering on whining of the highest order by some who are in effect being extremely infantile to say the least. Patriotism can in many forms but it’s how one defines it and the actions therein that really counts.
The talent will go to wherever its needs are best met and fed. And that’s all that is happening here with Hammon . The fact that there happens to be a large financial gain to it all shouldn’t be lost. But look at this way the Olympics is no longer representative of the ideals of Baron Pierre de Coubertin , the founding father of the modern Olympic games. The athletes may well be chasing glory for their country but it’s the financial goals that now seems to wet their appetites.
Below you’ll find a transcript of an account written by me with regard to this very topic that was placed on another site. Take time and an effort to read not only this piece but also the link provided. And then having done so , I’d be most obliged to read your comments . No matter whether they’re to the contrary in its objectivity or for the pro side of the subject therein.
http://community.foxsports.com/blogs/justanotherfan/2008/06/20/ToServe But To Do So With Distinction And Pride
abritishman aka tophatal ………………………