My goal each morning when I wake up is to take a small portion of my day and devote it to escaping the real world, and the realities of America's decline. And one of the things I do for that cause is read the sports section, watch SportsCenter, listen to Mike&Mike on ESPN Radio, click on to si.com and fannation, and follow the happenings of my favorite sports teams including the San Diego Padres, USC Trojans football team, and the Oakland Raiders. But too often, the real world is dominating sports and my escape from the reality of a country so confused, so misled and lied to, and so mixed up with the meanings of patriotism and nationalism.
I bring this up here on a sports website, because I have become fully aware of a story with its origins in "sports", while also with reality implications. The recent scenario of WNBA player Becky Hammon, being attacked and called a traitor for agreeing to play for the Russian Women's Basketball Team in the 2008 Summer Olympics is yet another example of how stupid many of us in America are.
Frederick Douglass gives us what I believe to be the best definition between patriotism and nationalism, calling "a true patriot one who rebukes and does not excuse the sins of his or her country". A nationalist -practicing nationalism -meanwhile believes America is always right and god is always on America's side. So why am I giving these distinctions to you here in a blog post about a basketball player who will play for Russia in the 2008 Summer Olympics? Because I believe the confusion of patriotism and nationalism are the root cause of the hysteria that surrounds Hammon.
I am not a follower of the WNBA (let alone the NBA), and I had not even heard of Hammon before I came about this story in the papers, on the radio, and on ESPN in recent days. The short version as I have read it, heard it, and have seen it recently: Hammon, a standout for the San Antonio Silver Stars and a native of South Dakota was not immediately invited to play for the U.S. Women's Basketball team for the 2008 Games. Hammon, who plays for the CSKA Moscow team in the WNBA off-season and has dual-citizenship as a result, was invited to play for Russia for the Summer Games. A day after she accepted the invitation to play for Russia, the U.S. team asked her to try out for a potential spot on the U.S. roster. As I undestand it, Hammon declined and will play for Russia (if there is need for clarification on these details, please let us know).
And of course, the backlash has begun. Hammon has been called a traitor to her country. The U.S. women's coach Anne Donovan has been one of the most vocal critics of Hammon, who called her a traitor on SportsCenter recently. Many now question her patriotism.
I can blabber on about how many individuals are on Olympic rosters of countries other than the one they live in most of a given year. I can go on about the ignorance of the U.S. women's team who ignored Hammon before she took up Russia's invite. Blah... blah.. blah
But think about this. Here again, with some Americans having completely mixed up what being a "patriot" truly means. You cannot blame them however, when you see how neoconservatives running the country have blurred our vision. And now that blurred vision has been extended again to sports, and to a U.S. Olympic team.
Of course I will root for my country, America, in all of the events at the 2008 Summer Olympics. But no doubt, I will also root for Becky Hammon.
But when does the ignorance in this country end? When does America get its true meaning back?