Sunday, May 8, 2011

Sexual Preference: A New Olympic Sport?

 The Unites States lost a team leader this week when sexual preference became an Olympic Sport.

Still a Hero?
Peter Vidmar, Olympic gold medalist and a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, voluntarily stepped down from his position as chef de mission for the 2012 U.S. Olympic team.

Vidmar, who won two gold medals at the 1984 Olympics, had been filling the liaison officer position for the American team.  His job was to assisting with the interaction between the International Olympic Committee and local Olympic organizers for the London games. He had been in the position for eight days.

His critics focused their displeasure with his selection due to Vidmar's position on Proposition 8, ballot initiative in California defining marriage as between a man and a woman." USA Today says that Vidmar "participated in two anti-gay marriage demonstrations and donated $2,000 for the successful 2008 Proposition sponsored by California voters.

"I certainly wouldn't want to be represented by someone who is anti gay marriage.” Stated Jonny Weir, Olympic Ice skater in “It isn't just about marriage; it is being allowed equal rights as Americans. The fact this man who is very publicly against something that may be represented on the American team is disgraceful."

Apparently, the attempt to keep politics and religion out of the Olympics has lost its appeal. The Olympic pendulum has swung back to justifying exclusion based on something other than sports or ability.

Vidmar stated that his resignation was in an attempt to retain focus on U.S. athletes and athletics. "I wish that my personal religious beliefs would not have become a distraction from the amazing things that are happening in the Olympic movement in the United States. I simply cannot have my presence become a detriment to the U.S. Olympic family."

Several days before he resigned his position, Vidmar stated in the Chicago Tribune, "I fully respect the rights of everyone to have the relationships they want to have. I respect the rights of all our athletes, regardless of their race, their religion or their sexual orientation. I will cheer and do all I can, passionately, for every athlete on the U.S. Olympic team."

Mr. Vidmar gave up his position because it was bringing negative attention to U.S.Olympic movement, a passion of his for the past twenty five years. One could argue that he, knowing that his personal/political opinions would not go unnoticed being in the eye of the public, should have been more subtle in his approach in 2004. However, being in the public should not, and certainly has not kept others from stating their opinion.

Vidmar: `I hope that by stepping aside, the athletes and their stories will rightly take center stage.'' Political/religious land mine avoided? Or has Mr Vidmar just been punked?

My son came home from school last week proud that he had defended his sisters honor.  Some girl at school had made fun of his sister and had called her a hateful name.  I was so proud of my son!  He stood up for what he believed was right!  He defended the defenceless and had stood-up for the underdog.  I found out later that my son had punched the kid in the nose, thrown her homework into the canal and had his friends throw food  at her and trash her lunch.  Suddenly I am in a quandary.  My daughter should not have been picked on.  And my son should not have been a bully.

The Olympics are simply reacting to the same political nightmare the country had arguable been in for the last twenty years; and just when we thought the politics of 80 (Moscow) and 84 LA) were past. They're back. The names have changed, but the topic is still in-tolerance.

The pendulum is still swinging.

Women can vote. African Americans have rights. Yesterdays communists are gone. Homosexuals are turned out to be just us. Now who are we going to pick on?

Whether or not you agree with Vidmars religious/political beliefs, His innate class and polish in focusing on the athletes; forfeiting his dream job to support his country and his religious beliefs is laudable. Blackballing, Bulling, McCarthyism are all Alive and well – only this time they are better dressed. Who throws tomorrows stones, and at whom?

We have become a nation of reactionaries. When the republican in power fails to produce, we elect his opposite. And when said opposite fails, we scream again and overreact and elect, once again, the opposite. There is no moderation, and the pendulum continues to swing. It continues to cut its swath in society, and while it does there will not ever be parity. There will continue to be an abuser and an abused.

We replace one political enemy for another. Is it time yet for someone, regardless of political position to reach out with equally bloody hands and stop the carnage.

I am not calling for a movement. I am calling for Moderate. And common sense.

I would appreciate seeing where you stand - with civility as always.


  1. Here here. Let the swinging and slaying stop.

    12 So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.

    13 Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way. Romans 13

  2. I wish that his personal religious beliefs hadn't become a distraction as well. But the reality is, they stopped being solely personal the minute he used them to prevent other people in the state of California from getting married.

    BYU has experienced the same thing in the past. There were the 14 University of Wyoming football players who were suspended for wearing armbands to protest racism at BYU, and both Stanford and San Jose State University refused to play BYU in any sport for a period of time.

  3. So, where’s the beef? Is it because the Olympic team lost a man by hurting his feelings, that gays can’t get married, or that people are rude to Mormons? Mormons should be used to negative media attention by now. It sounds like Peter Vidmar is a decent guy who believes that marriage is for a man and a woman – what Prop 8 was about, BTW. Gays need to prove their case with factual rhetoric, not the hateful, sardonic spew that homosexuals have adopted since they took the floor. As a gay man, I don’t want to be told I can’t get married, and at the same time I wouldn’t want most of these guys represented in the media raising children.

  4. Mr. Jonny W. seems to have forgotten that he represented a country where the majority of people may not have been thrilled with his representation to the world as an American. One too many feathers, if you ask me. Sarcasm aside, we put up with his political/religious views without press conferences putting him down. Is still America?

  5. Hopefully, this is not a matter of rejecting someone based on his personal beliefs. If a gay man in a relationship with another man were selected, many religious conservative athletes would strongly feel that person does not represent all of their values and might wish someone else were chosen, but I'm not sure they'd make a big stink about it. But what if the person has actually acted publicly to affect the legal rights of others or national policy? If the selected leader had helped a campaign to remove "In God We Trust" from American coinage and public property, do you suppose there would be no questions raised by the conservative right and even moderates as to whether this person should represent the team? And yet, God is not in the Olympic mission, but inclusion and equality are.

    Since the issue of gay marriage is, to much of the world, not an issue of morality but one of civil rights (they don't much care that an LDS president said the opposite), it's not a big leap to determine leadership based on public donations to a campaign opposing what might be a civil rights matter.

    The controversy is an understandable dilemma for those who are confident history will look back on prohibition of same-sex marriage as a shameful denial of basic civil rights. Trying to pull a "Fox News" and make this all about reverse discrimination seems a bit...immoderate.

    Imagine it from another perspective: the frontrunner had actively helped a campaign to outlaw mixed-ethnicity marriage or actively opposed abolition. That's not exactly congruent with the "Olympic spirit" as I understand it, no matter what athletic and leadership credentials he/she may have, and to question the propriety of appointing such a person to represent the team wouldn't seem like extremist hate rhetoric to me.

    So even though I probably wouldn't have made a stink about this particular case, I don't think you have to be an extremist or hate-monger to have reasonable concerns. Regardless, I agree he seems to have handled it with class.

  6. Good topic! Thanks for bringing it up. What if it had been a bunch of straight supporters who were calling for the head of someone who had pushed for gay marriage three years ago?
    And does being tolerant of others mean that I have to believe every word they say and do what they tell me to do, or can I still have an opinion that is different than yours? I do that marriage is of god when it is between a man and a woman. But I will not oppose it if you decide to marry as you may. “Let them worship how when or what they may…”. But, if you ask me, I will still say that I don’t agree with you.

  7. You can have an opinion, but you just can’t say it out loud if it goes against public...well, I can’t even say that because the entire state of CA voted on it and not just the Mormons. It apparently is the consensus

  8. Jeff in ColoradoMay 18, 2011 at 3:36 PM

    Like others here, I don't want to go down a path in which we force people like Vidmar to resign because of their beliefs.

    But, what Prop 8 did in California was terminate constitutional rights. Even the resulting court cases have shown that is was simply done out of animosity.

    So, I really don't have a problem with people standing up and saying: you're entitled to your beliefs, but what you did was work to deny civil rights and we don't want you representing us for that reason.

  9. Personal beliefs stop being so when they impact the rights of others.