Do American Athletes Think The Olympics Have Lost Relevance?

The United States Men’s first 2020 Olympics win — a dismantling of Iran — wouldn’t usually be something to rejoice about.

Under the circumstances however — with Team USA having squandered a 7-point lead with three minutes left in losing the opening game to France — this morning’s battle against a clearly overmatched Iranian team had the urgency of an NBA elimination game.  

Jrue Holiday finally arrived from NBA Finals duty and he was a defensive energy pack as usual.

Damian Lillard found his shooting stroke early getting open against much less athletic players and Zach Lavin introduced himself to the festivities with strong interior and exterior play.

 

 

don’t want to call Team USA out for being bullies,  but if they don’t sweep out and take the gold, it’s probably the reputation they will take back home to the States with them.

 

Don’t go putting up 120 on lesser teams who are devoid of NBA talent and then lose to squads like Nigeria with a couple solid NBA guys and a ton of heart.

 

It’s clear Team USA has the greatest compilation of talent, but with limited time to really practice and mesh, Gregg Popovich hasn’t been able to make the correct strokes with the paint brush to create a Dream Team masterpiece. 

After dropping two international contests leading up to the Olympics, Team USA was catching major flack for losing its opener. 

No one really expected them to lose to Iran, but we were all interested to see if they played with energy and also observe their body language and execution.

Americans often like to use the elitist excuse that the Olympics aren’t important. But we see that the spirit of competition — with or without fans — is vibrantly flowing through the 11,000 athletes from 206 countries in attendance. Regardless of social standing, political affiliations  or religious preferences.

And the one goal that they all share is a desire to defeat Team USA.

It’s the driving force behind many of the competitors and their government’s motives for sending athletes.

Athletes from dictatorships and countries where oppression, racism and systemic roadblocks are served like breakfast in the morning.

So I hope this wasn’t just an easy run for Team USA. America is the supreme basketball juggernaut and its success in past Olympics, on the men and women’s side, is proof.

But if they don’t at least advance to the medal round (which would still have Twitter going ape sh*t) it would be a terrible indictment on the culture of USA basketball and a glaring admission of just how unimportant the Olympics are to many of the athletes in attendance.

I figured the Olympics would be a great time for athletes of color to continue the fight against social injustice and systemic racism.

Despite the archaic rules of the Olympic committee to impede any acts of expression concerning social ills, the platform itself is too vast not to make some kind of statement.

Oppression and racism and inequities and crimes against women are happening in real time.

The Games provide all athletes a platform to attack these issues. Especially when most of the world can relate in one way or another.

With the exception of one creative and courageous Costs Rican gymnast, that hasn’t happened.


So if patriotism or nationalism (whatever they call it now) is not a motivating factor in your Olympic journey then I’m going to need the USA squad to win it for themselves.

And all the NBA fans and community that truly believe their players are the world’s elite and will rise to the top in the end.

JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The General Manager of Content & Social Media is in his 25th year of covering sports and culture professionally. He has covered a wide variety of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, newspapers, magazines and national TV. His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.