Those of you who follow this blog regularly are used to my favourite columnist, Prof. Renford Reese, a political science professor at Cal Poly Pomona University. He is the author of five books, and the widely discussed journal article, “The Olympic Ideals and the Multiple Agendas of the Games” found in the London Journal of International Sport (April 2012).
I totally agree with his analysis below which I welcome all the more as I was unable to watch it due to my Atlantic trip which I will certainly post soon. Here’s however my contribution to the so typically British spirit with a photo I took at the Royal Henley Regattas late June this year (2012). One last point, however, and a very sore one. I was utterly upset by the refusal of the IOC to refuse to commemorate the tragedy of the Munich Massacre of Israeli Athletes which happened exactly 30 years ago. This is a missed opportunity to pay tribute to athletes who came for a celebration of cosmopolitan sport and got trapped into world politics…
Inland Valley Bulletin/San Bernardino Sun (CA)
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Guest Columnist: Renford Reese
How the London Olympics will help Obama get Re-elected
I followed the London Olympics each day with great anticipation. Like many of us, I wanted to know what the overall medal count was each day. From a geo-political perspective, the medal count is significant. China’s quest to be the overall medal leader is reflective of their desired Superpower status. Indeed, the success in the Games is symbolic of the perceived health, strength, and vitality of a nation. By winning the most metals with 104 and winning the overall gold medal count with 46, the U.S. Olympic team made an emphatic statement to the world, which echoes President Obama’s sentiments–the U.S. is not in decline.
Presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s pre-Olympics criticism that London might not be ready for the Games were widely criticized in London—garnering negative headlines in the British news such as “Mitt the Twit,” and “Party-pooper” among others. U.S. Olympian Carl Lewis stated the following about Romney’s pre-event criticisms: “I swear, sometimes I think some Americans shouldn’t leave the country…Are you kidding me, stay home if you don’t know what to say.” Lewis’s comments describe a person who lacks diplomacy—a critical skill for the leader of the free world.
Contrary to Romney’s presence at the Games, Michelle Obama’s attendance had the opposite effect. The First Lady was greeted warmly by the British, the international fans, and by the U.S. Olympic team. When the members of Team USA basketball walked into the stands to give the First Lady a hug after their victory over France, it was one of the most touching and memorable scenes of the Games. With grace, charm, and her own charisma, there is not a classier representative of the U.S. than the First Lady. I think most Americans can envision seeing Michelle Obama as the First Lady for four more years.
The Olympics inspired national pride. Americans irrespective of ideology or race cheered on Michael Phelps, Allyson Felix, Gabby Douglas, and LeBron James. The “USA, USA” chant seemed to resonate louder and prouder throughout these Games. This nationalism has the potential to mitigate some of the political divisiveness in the country. If so, President Obama will benefit from this esprit de corps.
Moreover, these Games were the full manifestation of Title IX, which ensured gender equity in college athletics 40 years ago. Gender equity has been at the forefront of Obama’s presidency. In fact, no U.S. president has worked harder to make this issue a priority. This was the first Olympics that the U.S. sent more women than men (269 compared with 261). The U.S. women won 58 medals to the men’s 45. Obama’s staunch support for women’s rights and gender equity paid off in London and will pay off in November.
At the opening and closing ceremonies, one conspicuous site was the physical appearance of the national teams. There was no national team that had the diversity of the American team. Our dynamic ethnic diversity was on display for the world to see throughout the Games. This diversity has contributed to this country’s greatness in and outside of the Olympic athletic venues. This inclusive multicultural spirit explains how we elected the first African American president in 2008 and why we will elect him again in 2012.
Obama will ultimately benefit from these Olympic Games because of the national pride they have inspired. These Games have shown each American and the world that the U.S. is not in decline under this President, but the opposite. The London Olympics also showed each American and the world the diplomatic maladroitness of Obama’s opponent and the grace, charm, and warmth of our First Lady. The Games reflected Obama’s prioritization of gender equity and his desire to build an inclusive America where everyone wins a medal. In the end, Obama will benefit from the collective love, pride, joy, and excitement that these Games brought to our nation, which will propel him to the top position on the podium and will enable him to win the ultimate gold medal.
If you liked this post, I warmly invite you to read Renford’s other brilliant papers on my page on African-American Perspectives (click on link) in this blog. You will find there his own contributions, links and pages.