I grew up in an Olympics loving household. My mom allowed me to get me some very short lived ice skating lessons after seeing Debi Thomas skate in the 1988 Olympics. We loved the summer games too though! There’s nothing like the sprinting and gymnastics! I will never forget FloJo running for gold in Seoul! The hair, the nails, the SPEED!
It’s the one time where everyone around the world comes together in the name of sportsmanship.
Magic happens during the Olympics! Legends are made. Beautiful stories are written and rewritten.
Along with the beauty there’s also been scandal. This Olympics was no different.
Let me give you a recap….
Sha’ Carri Richardson is a US Olympic spriter that was sidelined for the Tokyo Olympics due to testing positive for smoking pot: a banned substance. Sha’Carri said she was overwhelmed by the death of her mother and smoked pot in an effort to cope. Many people had empathy, but the rules are the rules, right?
In this year’s Olympics, scandal once again hit ice skating. A Russian skater tested positive for a ‘trifecta of substances’, according to Travis Tygart quoted in the New York Times. Only one–trimetazidine is banned. The three medications together would benefit the athlete with ‘increased endurance that reduces fatigue and promotes greater efficiency in using oxygen’ as according to Tygart of the US Anti-Doping Agency.
In both cases, there was a public outcry. Both ladies garnered sympathy and some level of outrage. There was one difference in the outcomes: Richardson was not able to run. Valieva was able to skate. Many openly wondered why? Particularly because pot isn’t an enhancer and these heart medications would definately help Valieva in recovering from the many jumping passes she does in her programs. Two reasons were cited, the fact that Valieva was a minor when the doping occured and the mental health issues she might endure if she were told she couldn’t compete.
In the aftermath of the controversy, Valieva was told that if she were to medal in the women’s event, as she did in the team event, there would be no medal ceremony until the results of the inquest against her were over. She fell to fourth in her program, which allowed for the medals to be awarded. The US figure skating team which placed silver went home without their medals as they wait to find out if the Russian team will be disqualified, which would elevate them to gold.
As I watched these events play out, so much of these circumstances reminded me of pandemic teaching.
Rules don’t create justice.
Local union groups are fighting so hard for public schools right now. We are losing teachers and funding with every legislative cycle. The rules that they think are helping often cause rookie teachers to be paid more than veterans. It unfairly designates per pupil funding. Lately rules are removing autonomy from teachers and allowing parents to dictate what’s taught in schools. Many of these parents who have been active in these movements would prefer inaccurate representations of history and the exclusion of non-white folks and any student or parent in the LGBTQIA+ spectrum. These ‘rules’ aren’t about a more just society at all.
Powerful people manipulate systems to their benefit.
We continue to see how access and funding lead to exclusionary ed policies. From the homeschooling pods to the growing number of charter schools around the country, we are swiftly going back to segregration based on socio-economic status and race. Public schools are for the good of the public. We need to make them as good as possible for all kids.
Those who are most deserving of empathy, often get none.
Teachers are up against it in schools right now in the worst way. The pressure to get kids caught up is intense. The little bit of good will we had before the pandemic has been lost in a haze of CRT, anti-masking mandates (or the lack of) and parental rights feuds. In the middle are teachers just trying to get this job done with little grace and much less support that we actually feel could help.
Experts in the field aren’t valued.
Experts in both track and field and skating have had a lot to say about how these two circumstances were handled. The public at large only respects the opinion that they have. It doesn’t matter if they have never run a race or skated across the ice. We’re seeing this same phenomenon in teaching too. Teachers have been calling out so many different practices that could help students– for decades. When the pandemic started that din became a scream. Still, we are not heard about what’s best in the space that we give so much of our lives to. It’s one of several reasons you see teachers leaving. Don’t be fooled. It’s not the money. It’s the disrespect that the lack of autonomy and the low pay represents.
We will continue to do our best, those of us who remain. In spite of the challenges.
Teaching is as scandalized as sports in so many ways.
Magic happens in the classroom! Legends are made. Beautiful stories are written and rewritten.
The difference is…we don’t make the front page.