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15 April 2008

Abbey Wambach, US Soccer Olympian: She's going for the gold! (Everybody else can just fuck off.)

Click image, much easier to read.

This is the most impassioned speech I've ever heard in defense of knowing nothing, caring less, and being deaf to the world's cries for our help.
I hope soccer Olympian
Abbey Wambach realizes her dream, wins a gold medal, and gets a gazillion dollars in endorsements.

It's apparently the only thing her brain and her heart have room for.

Other American athletes have, and have had, other styles of competing in the Olympics. In some athletes' brains and hearts, there's room for sport AND concern for the other human beings on Planet Earth. Not every Olympic athlete kisses a police state's ass so obediently and enthusiastically.

The upcoming Olympics in Beijing again raise the miserable question: Which superpower is teaching its values and emphases to the other? Which national giant is succeeding in shaping the future for the entire planet?

Is America -- are Americans -- setting an example for the world about Human Rights and the Rule of Law?

Or is the People's Republic of China teaching Americans how to keep their mouths shut about atrocities, genocide, state murders, religious repression, and censorship?

This really is a watershed moment for this miserable question, because under President Bush, the USA has plummetted toward the Police/Military/Authoritarian Model of sovereign governance. Historically -- not perfectly, but historically -- when the world's people scream, the American people respond loudly and generously.

Under Bush, we've been causing a lot of the screaming.

China rules by force, by weapons, by prisons. Will that be the model of national behavior which prevails in the future? And will our Olympic athletes be our vanguard, teaching young Americans how to make nice-nice to totalitarian dictatorships?

Differences between Abbey Wambach's quote in the text story below and in the graphic above -- the above is transcribed word for word from the radio program. If you click on "Listen Now," you can hear the audio version of the story.

I think I'd rather clean septic tanks than spend a dollar to see the Beijing Olympics. On TV, if I have a choice of watching these Olympics or Spongebob Squarepants re-runs, that will be a no-brainer. Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? Who doesn't get what he wants with tanks and assault rifles?


"All Things Considered"
National Public Radio
(USA non-commercial radio network)
Monday 14 April 2008

Is Free Speech at Risk
for Olympians?

by Howard Berkes

Listen Now [3 min 37 sec]

The Beijing Olympics is still four months away but it's already considered one of the most politicized games in Olympic history.

Still, American Olympians gathered at the U.S. Olympic Committee's pre-Olympic Media Summit in Chicago seem determined to keep sports and politics separate.

Heather O'Reilly of the U.S. women's soccer team, is aware of China's record on human rights, but is also firm about her role at the Olympics.

"We are socially aware individuals and we understand why people are using (the Beijing Olympics) as a platform for change in the world," O'Reilly told a hotel ballroom filled with reporters. "But we're athletes. We're focusing on winning back that gold medal."

Teammate Abbey Wambach told the group that adding political expectations to the competitive pressures athletes already face is a bit much.

"That's a lot of responsibility," Wambach said, especially on top of the duty "... to represent your country and to perform and to try to win a gold medal ... it's a lot for one person to take on." [exact quote in graphic above.]

Speaking out at the Olympics has its price. The International Olympic Committee has warned athletes about "Rule 51" in the Olympic Charter, which all Olympic athletes agree to honor when they compete in the games. The rule says that "No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas."

The rule also prohibits armbands, ribbons, buttons or other signs of "publicity or propaganda" on the equipment or clothing of Olympic athletes and officials.

American athletes accused of violating Rule 51 would be investigated by the U.S. Olympic Committee's Games Administration Board, which would recommend a response. But the Olympic Charter reserves a final decision for the International Olympic Committee's Executive Board, and it could send violators home.

"The two areas that are addressed most directly by Rule 51 are competition venues and the athlete's village," notes Darryl Seibel, spokesman for the U.S. Olympic Committee. "Beyond that, athletes are free to express themselves anywhere and in any way they feel appropriate. Of course, you have to respect the laws of the country you're in."

That means athletes have nothing to fear from Olympic officials if they protest in some way outside the Olympic venues. But, it's not clear how Chinese authorities would react. They're so authoritarian, and fearful of dissent, they're expected to snoop on American visitors to the Olympics, according to the State Department. A State Department advisory warns that Americans can expect surreptitious surveillance, wire-tapping and undisclosed searches of hotel rooms during the Olympics.

But, this week's Olympic media event in Chicago closed its first day without any of the American athletes in attendance calling for or promising political acts. Even the politically minded see a clear line between competition and protest.

American softball pitcher Jennie Finch is one of hundreds of Olympic athletes who have joined Team Darfur, an effort to raise money for and awareness about the human rights and relief crisis in the Darfur region of Sudan. China supports the government of Sudan, which is blamed for the crisis.

"Of course (Darfur) concerns me. It should concern everybody," Finch asserts. "But at the same time, it's separated from what I'm doing as an Olympian and what I'm competing for."

Gymnast Shawn Johnson says she and her teammates are focused on their Olympic dreams and goals. "In the end we are athletes ... I don't think there's going to be anything that's going to change the way we feel about the Olympics."

- 30 -


patfromch said...

uhh, like, SoccerMom is having, uhh, like doubts ? She looks like a Soccer Mom to me.

Ahh back in the old days when you were a lad and I was a toddler we had Muhammed Ali (I saw his last fight with my dad on TV). He said No to Nam and gave support to his poeple. But he got away with it, he had the biggest mouth in the biz. But those were different times.

Today we have SoccerMoms, probably unaware that 90 % of all her football gear was made in China (and 90 % of the rest of her clothes as well)

No need to watch the Olympics. Here is an alternative for June:

This sport is called Football, not Soccer. CH is hosting, no need to worry about child labour and crimes against humanity

Vleeptron Dude said...

Yes, yes, of course I know that to the rest of planet Earth, it's called Football. And because I love making Vleeptron easy and transparent to most of the world, I usually call it Football, like when I posted about the World Cup.

But this story is about a smelly American turd. The Olympics is the really creepy moment every 4 years when everybody and all the commercial TV networks run around screaming USA! USA! WE'RE NUMBER 1! USA!

If I (or NPR) called it Football, everybody'd get confused and think they were talking about the mega-violent all-male military-style competition where everybody's dressed in armor and the ball isn't round.

During our American Football off-season, a lot of our players go to Europe and have a little league playing exhibition games a train ride away from you. You want to see something violent and weird? Well, it's a lot like Rugby, but with body armor.

Then there's Canadian football with an odd rule ... the guy who catches the first kickoff ball can't be protected by his teammates, so the whole enemy team races down the field to destroy this one poor guy.

Tatiana Veratti said...

PLEASE complete your research before you so poorly attack the character of such a fantastic role model. By the way, it is spelled Abby, though her real name is Mary Abigail Wambach.

"Wambach has never shied from advocating causes she believes in, as evidenced by her photo in the 2007 team handbook. She wore a "Save Darfur" shirt, noteworthy because the handbook previewed the Women's World Cup in China, which has been criticized for how its international policies affect Darfur. Three years ago, Wambach's real-world concerns led her on a 10-day tour of Africa with Right to Play, an international organization that brings sports to underprivileged children. Her Thanksgiving dinner was an energy bar at an airport in Kenya."
Full article at:

Abby went to africa in order to promote opportunities for (very) underpriveledged children to play sports in 2003.

"Abby’s visit not only infused the sport and play programs of Nakivale with a new determined energy, but made the community realize that they are more than just a camp, but they are part of a growing movement that is successfully developing sport and play as a tool for health and peace." Full article at:

It is unfortunate that her response to the radio was all that it took to cast a very dark shadow over her name and the names of her teammates. She and her teammates are very committed to being positive role models.

Please reconsider your opinion of Abby Wambach. Your effort to encourage awareness of human rights issues throughout the world is honorable, but I would ask that you be more cautious when choosing who to use as a negative example.


Vleeptron Dude said...

Very cool, very informed advocacy for Abby Wambach -- and thanks for the spelling correction too.

I would have to give her the Gold Medal for sticking her foot in her mouth about human rights issues at the Beijing Olympics.

She's spent a little too much time practicing soccer, and too little time thinking about the consequences of going for the Beijing gold. People suffered and were imprisoned because she obeyed all the rules and stayed far from controversy.

Sometimes being focused and keeping your eye on the prize aren't necessarily virtues.

I still would have wished a lot more from her head and her heart at Beijing.

It's just not all about Coca-Cola and Nikes.

And never has been, not for the greatest and bravest American Olympic athletes.

She'd say in a heartbeat that she was proud to represent America -- but what about America, exactly, did she choose to represent? America's skill at soccer?

It's the same old question: Who, exactly, is leading whom into the new Millennium?

Is America leading the world toward human rights?

Or is China leading the world into intimidating everyone -- including Americans -- into keeping their mouths shut about human rights?

I think this woman has a lot of practicing to do -- in the library, in the classroom, in volunteer gigs for human rights organizations -- before the next Olympics.

But sincerely, thanks for the Comment, thanks for being interested in this.

vbsoccer4 said...

Vleeptron, it sounds as though you are quite serious about your position, but after seeing what Tatiana wrote and then viewing your response, it begs the question: Did you even read what Tatiana wrote? I did and then I did some research so that I could be informed. It is my suspicion that you heard the radio broadcast, jumped to incorrect conclusions, then decided to rant about one of the people on the broadcast: Abby Wambach. That is an understandable misunderstanding and I would have looked the other way had you recanted. You did not. Now, when I read the words “This is the most impassioned speech…of knowing nothing, caring less…” I can’t help but think of a phrase having to do with a pot calling a kettle black. Does this expression ring any bells?

I'm shocked that you would single out Abby Wambach so deftly, continue to slander (likely) the most vehement humanitarian on the team, have this fact pointed out to you, and then respond as if the mistake was not evident.

Abby was obviously opposed to what was going on by publicly wearing her “save Darfur” t-shirt and being a member of Team Darfur ( I’m actually surprised that you were so put off by what she said on the radio broadcast. For reference: “That’s a lot of responsibility to ask an athlete to not only to represent your country and win a gold medal, but also to have these political views. We all have them; we all have our viewpoints…”

(While the issue of Abby Wambach’s integrity isn’t your main point, I think the right thing to do is perhaps find a more worthy target of your disdain and admit that she is likely your ally.)

PLEASE respond to the following questions:

By her statement, you have made the assumption that she doesn’t care and knows nothing? How do you extrapolate such an opinion from her so plainly saying “we all have our viewpoints” and simply not spending the following 4 hours going into detail on all of her religious and political views? Also, out of curiosity, what would you have liked her to do in opposition of the People's Republic of China?

Also, I would like to inform you that Abby Wambach wasn’t a competing athlete in the Olympic Games this time around. Knowing this, perhaps you would have expected more from her as an advocate for human rights. Still, I’m curious what exactly was the “right” thing to do in your eyes?

Tatiana Veratti said...

First let me apologize for not responding for such a long time--I hadn't realized you had replied.

To begin with, I wanted to make sure you were aware that she did not even go to China with the team for the Beijing Olympics. She snapped her shin in half in a pre-Olympic game against Brazil. Not to say that if she had gone that she would have started a riot, but the fact that she wasn't even there would certainly explain why she didn't speak up during the gold medal ceremony.

My goal here is not to encourage athletes to ignore political injustices, but rather to ask you to choose another candidate for your example. I do not believe she deserves this.

Spreading awareness of the situation is a great thing--even I wasn't aware of how bad it had gotten. If China simply used the Olympics as a stage for shutting athletes up, I'm not sure most athletes realized the message they were sending by following such rules.

When you say "I think this woman has a lot of practicing to do -- in the library, in the classroom, in volunteer gigs for human rights organizations -- before the next Olympics." I feel like you assume that my examples of her volunteer work began and ended with a trip to Rwanda. Abby also fights for rights at home in USA. She is Title IX in person, and it goes beyond that. There are many human rights wars everywhere, and she can't speak out to all of them.

There is the idea of helping children at home to aspire to great things, to have dreams, to pursue difficult goals. This is yet another topic that she preaches with passion. Just because Title IX and middle class children don't fit your criteria for worthy causes to dedicate oneself to, I don't think you can ignore that she is very active in bringing happiness to the people she is able.

As I said before, I simply want you to consider a different person as your example of dispassion towards human rights. Otherwise we end up with people like "Patfromch" who go a little too far in insulting whoever is blamed.

If you need ideas for another example, choose me! I haven't done anything humatarianistic lately, and I certainly watched the Olympics with gleeful ignorance.

As I asked in my previous post, I will ask again that you reconsider your opinion of her.

vbsoccer4 said...

Yes, Tatiana, I wonder if she would have even been ABLE to go (with or without the injury).

QUOTE: "She (Abby Wambach) was one of nine American athletes the Chinese listed as potential troublemakers during the run-up to the Olympics."

Sildenafil said...

I was surprised with one of the phrases written in here such as: "Not every Olympic athlete kisses a police state's ass so obediently and enthusiastically." it would be terrible he or she having to do that, that's desperation. said...

This will not have effect in reality, that is what I believe. said...

Quite helpful piece of writing, thank you for this article.