US Fencer Takes Knee at Pan Am Games; May Face Disciplinary Action

Erin Evans

Race Imboden and his teammates, Gerek Meinhardt and Nick Itkin, won the gold in a team fencing competition at the Pan American games in Lima, Peru on Friday.

At the medal ceremony, Imboden staged a national anthem protest, taking a knee while his roommates stood.

“We must call for change,” Imoboden said afterward on Twitter.  “This week I am honored to represent Team USA at the Pan Am Games, taking home Gold and Bronze.”

“My pride however has been cut short by the multiple shortcomings of the country I hold so dear to my heart,” he said.  “Racism, Gun Control, mistreatment of immigrants.”

I’m so over this “protest.”  It’s not doing anything – not even moving forward the conversation it was intended to start.  Colin Kaepernick started this whole national anthem thing three years ago, before President Trump was even elected.  What has it achieved?  Not much, other than helping to further divide us.

I think the protest would have been much more powerful if Kaepernick and his ilk had said, ‘Look, this country has problems, and we knelt to raise awareness of those problems.  Now we’ve raised awareness and started a conversation, and we’re going to take action towards solving those problems.  In the meantime, we’re going to stand, in unity with our fellow citizens to show that we are stronger together.  We are a great country, we’re going to become greater by addressing our problems, and we’re going to do it together.”

That might have meant something.  Continuing to kneel and complain three years later, without working towards actual change, is meaningless.

Anyway, now Imboden might be facing disciplinary action from the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee:

“Every athlete competing at the 2019 Pan American Games commits to terms of eligibility, including to refrain from demonstrations that are political in nature.  In this case, Race didn’t adhere to the commitment he made to the organizing committee and the USOPC,” Mark Jones, Vice President of Communications, USOPC said in a statement on Saturday.

“We respect his rights to express his viewpoints, but we are disappointed that he chose not to honor his commitment.  Our leadership are reviewing what consequences may result.”

I actually hope he does face some sort of disciplinary action.  He broke the rules of eligibility. His employer has every right to say ‘keep politics off the stage, save it for your own time.’

Everyone American has a right to free speech and freedom of expression, but there’s a time and a place for it.  I certainly don’t think the time and place for an American political protest is at an international sporting competition on foreign soil.

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