The Sochi Olympics have begun, and there has been great talk about the controversies regarding Russia and their human rights, or lack thereof.
Some have even gone to the extreme of suggesting a boycott of the Sochi Olympic Games, which brings up the question: should politics be a part of the sports culture? My answer to this question is no.
There’s no denying that politics and the Olympic Games have had a complicated relationship in the past, especially between the United States and Russia.
According to USA Today writer, Doug Stanglin, Russia seems to have come full circle from the last time they hosted the Olympics in 1980.
Then, the United States was just starting to mend their relationship with Russia until Russia entered Afghanistan Christmas Eve of 1979.
The United States President during this time, Jimmy Carter, started to take action against the Moscow Olympics by urging the U.S. Olympics committee to withdraw. A total of 65 countries abandoned the Moscow Olympics, letting their Olympic careers and aspirations pass by for the sake of a political debate.
And the story doesn’t end there. The Soviets made sure to get their revenge on the United States by boycotting the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, giving up their right to participate.
The irony even goes a bit further. The United States bailed out of the 1980 Olympics because of Russia’s decision to enter into Afghanistan. Now look at us.
According to USA Today’s Rick Hampson, America’s role in our own war against Afghanistan started Oct. 7, 2001 when U.S. forces attacked Afghanistan.
Now, 12 years later, Afghanistan is America’s longest war.
Much of the controversy surrounding this year’s Sochi Olympic Games is Russia’s decision made earlier this past year to ban all homosexual propaganda.
There is no denying that this is a violation of human rights, especially gay rights. Much of America is shocked and angry about this disrespect and breach of human rights, but forget to look at our own country.
Based on an article presented by CNN featuring statistics from Pew Forum, Human Rights Campaign on Jan. 15, 2014, only 16 out of our 50 states have legalized gay marriage.
How can we criticize Russia for entering Afghanistan and taking away the human rights of homosexuals when we have done both of these acts ourselves?
We may be less extreme in our acts of discrimination against homosexuals when compared to Russia, but we still have not fully embraced the rights of homosexuals here at home. With all of this political controversy, I think we’ve started to lose sight of the real purpose of the Olympic Games. The Olympics are meant to unite the world through the hard work of the participants and the entertainment it offers to the audiences.
It’s one of the very few ways the world unites, without having to worry about politics for once, but it seems we can’t even do that.
Even though what is happening in the host country of the Olympic Games hosts may be questionable, I feel that it is simply not a time for political controversy.
Not only would boycotting the Sochi Olympics be unfair to the athletes who have worked day after day for this one moment, but it would be a direct insult to the mission of the Olympics.
It’s time we start enjoying the Olympic Games and all they have to offer, and stop bringing politics into athletics. We should enjoy these games and support our country in each event, while also celebrating the fact that the world is coming together once again for the Olympic Games.
Taylor Howe can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org