Anthony Ervin: Nobody Gets To Tell You How to Lead

On Wednesday the International Olympic Committee Athletes’ Commission released their recommendations on the changes to Rule 50, which governs athlete expression at the Olympic Games. After consulting over 3,500 athletes, over two-thirds of those surveyed believe that protests during competition, on the medal stand, or during the Opening and Closing Ceremonies should not take place. 

The results in the survey and recommendations resulted in a number of athletes and organizations speaking out against the findings while showing support for athletes who do choose to protest. 

The USOPC Athlete Advisory Council released a statement via Twitter indicating their displeasure with the findings saying “Until the IOC changes its approach of feeding the myth of the neutrality of sport or protecting the status quo, the voices of marginalized athletes will continue to be silenced.

Members of the AAC leadership team include swimmer Anthony Ervin, a three-time gold medalist. Ervin also released a video voicing his displeasure with the IOC AC recommendations saying “Are you to be atop that podium, and those moments, for those few moments, you will lead your country. You wanna take a knee? Lead us by taking a knee. You wanna raise a fist? Lead us by raising a fist. You wanna cry tears of joy? Lead us with your tears.” 

 

The Chair of the AAC leadership is bobsledder and skeleton racer Bree Schaaf, who also works as the program manager for Global Athlete. GA is an “international athlete-led movement that will inspire and lead positive change in world sport.” GA  released a statement against the recommendations. GA had social science research experts review the IOC survey and concluded that that the methodology was both leading and flawed. GA believes that the IOC’s recommendations “further dictates when, where, and what athletes can speak. This is the opposite to freedom of expression.

In March the USOPC released their guidelines for athlete protests at Olympic and Paralympic Trials events. The USOPC has specified that it is allowing Racial & Social Justice demonstrations that promote historically underrepresented and marginalized groups. They are also prohibiting symbols and slogans of hate such as the confederate flag. The recommendations from the IOC AC are much more general in that they look at how and where athletes can protest rather than what specific slogans and symbols will be allowed or prohibited.

Athleten Deutschland, an independent group that represents German athletes, have given their support to athletes who choose to protest at the Tokyo Games. Johannes Herber, the executive director of AD said Should German athletes decide to peacefully stand up for fundamental values such as fighting racism during the Olympic Games, they can rely on the legal support of Athleten Deutschland.”

Despite these groups speaking out, over half [53%] of American athletes polled were against podium protest while over 60% were against protests during the Opening Ceremony or during competition. 

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Mr Piano
4 months ago

Well said, Tony.

swifter
Reply to  Mr Piano
4 months ago

+1

Calbearfan
4 months ago

Thank you for this, AE.

Owlmundo
4 months ago

Im surprised theres such a split on this and that the opposition is winning

FST
Reply to  Owlmundo
4 months ago

Are you really?

Owlmundo
Reply to  FST
4 months ago

Well no honwstly but I didnt think it was so close and i thought if any side had the edge it would be those in support

-1 for humanity except the good guys

Yozhik
4 months ago

Anthony Ervin is among my favorite athletes. The evening session in Rio Olympics when Katie Ledecky set a world record, Maya DiRado won the gold medal against Hosszu and Anthony Ervin became the fastest in 50 FR was the best night of the entire Olympics.
But I disagree with his ” …for those few moments, you will lead your country. …”
It is just in his mind so and I haven’t delegated this duty to him.
Therefore I prefer watching competition in the pool rather than medal ceremony with all these flags and anthems. We are making the Sport competition where the human perfection is celebrated the competition between nations with all these terrible consequences. Like punishing… Read more »

Torchbearer
Reply to  Yozhik
4 months ago

Agreed- jut because you win you a swim race and get to mount a podium, doesn’t mean you suddenly inject your political point-of-view on the world. You can do that anytime before or after the ceremony.

Robbos
Reply to  Torchbearer
4 months ago

He has every right to do what he feels is important to him. If you don’t agree that is also perfectly OK, change the channel, switch the TV off. Don’t get offended when people have views different.

Torchbearer
Reply to  Robbos
4 months ago

I am not offended by his views, I am offended when someone grandstands during a medal ceremony held to honour athletic performance. It is an inappropriate and disrespectful thing to do. There is plenty of time to do it a minute later. I dont think (hypothetically) seeing Sun make an anti-US gesture during a gold medal ceremony would be very edifying…

Robbos
Reply to  Torchbearer
4 months ago

If he felt strongly enough about it, why not, this is their moment in the sun, their time to shine & if they believe they want to share it with the world.
Some singers sing love songs, some singers sing protest songs, we are all different.

Owlmundo
Reply to  Yozhik
4 months ago

I think its your moment to do whatever you want. You want the athletes to dance like theyre monkeys and shut up when the spotlights on them but they’re entitled to use their 15 minutes of fame however they want, I think.

And sometimes those moments become iconic and help movements. So sometimes you do end up leading in a way. Inadvertently, of course, because no one does appoint their opinion to matter

But their opinion ends up mattering despite that because it carries weight. I say good for them for speaking up despite federations prefering that athletes conform. Screw that, all eyes are in one place only once every 4 years. If you have anything important to say… Read more »

Torchbearer
Reply to  Owlmundo
4 months ago

There is no more disrespectful place to say it. It is disrespectful to the competitors, the hosts, and the Olympic Movement.

Owlmundo
Reply to  Torchbearer
4 months ago

Why is this disrespectful i have no idea. Cause you would rather not hear it there??

vaud
Reply to  Torchbearer
4 months ago

Disrespectful to the… hosts?? Can you name a couple of the specific hosts being disrespected?

Brownish
Reply to  Yozhik
4 months ago

You never frustrates me. Your love about Hosszu is the same as ever 😉
I like Maya pretty well but that race had been lost by Katinka. The individual silver and bronze medals in IMs had been won by Maya.

Yozhik
Reply to  Brownish
4 months ago

😀

Bruno Fratus
4 months ago

Man we don’t appreciate Tony enough, true definition of a living legend

Last edited 4 months ago by Bruno Fratus
Mich
4 months ago

First time I’ll be rooting for Americans to lose races.

Coach Macgyver
Reply to  Mich
4 months ago

I’ll be sure to make note of that in my diary

Robbos
Reply to  Mich
4 months ago

Don’t worry, you will not be alone, but nothing to do with your views.

thezwimmer
4 months ago

It appears to be simply a vocal minority

FST
Reply to  thezwimmer
4 months ago

That says more about the silent majority though.

Yozhik
Reply to  thezwimmer
4 months ago

Anthony Ervin is a double minority – black Jewish. The most hated combination in the history of America.

Anonymoose
Reply to  Yozhik
4 months ago

Not tryna be disrespectful to him but I would have not in a million years believed him to be black (or party black or whatever).
There’s Caucasians that are darker than him.. and doesn’t that kinda mean he probably never had to deal with the racism black people in America have to deal with?
Idk, just my two cents

B1G Daddy
Reply to  Anonymoose
4 months ago

OMG. You actually took time to write that.

Eddie
4 months ago

Probably many people, despite hating racism and considering it disgusting, simply don’t agree that kneeling during the national anthem is appropriate and find that disrespecting towards the Country. I’m one of them. It’s not all black and white. Don’t you like kneeling ? Then you are racist. WRONG.

2Fat4Speed
Reply to  Eddie
4 months ago

But maybe, who cares what you think? If you are offended by kneeling, why should that matter at all?

Eddie
Reply to  2Fat4Speed
4 months ago

I’m not offended, I’m just saying that I disagree with this way of protesting and during such a big event like this where the attention should be on the sport. In 2021 you have press conferences, social medias, events… You EASILY find the way to be heard while discussing such important matters. Question : do you think that tons of people leaving nba, nfl and mlb do so because don’t care about racism ? Very very WRONG. When watching sports, people want to see sport, or while watching a movie they don’t want to see something about racism, violence, pollution…. even if they agree. That’s it.

B1G Daddy
Reply to  Eddie
4 months ago

EXACTLY! What they really hate is when the grandest stage is used. Don’t speak to a billion people watching at home, speak to like 12 journalists in a Zoom press conference and roll the dice on what they write.