You've all seen the photo: The Spanish men's and women's basketball teams posing with their fingers pulling their eyes back in a seemingly mocking gesture. It was taken before the Games for a publicity campaign by a Spanish courier and when it became public Tuesday most people were appropriately appalled. But Beijing Olympic committee spokesman Wang Wei said he hadn't seen it on Thursday. And neither has anyone at NBC, it seems, because as far as I can tell it hasn't been mentioned on-air yet. No time to squeeze that in between Michael Phelps musical montages, it seems.
And then there's this photo, which came out today: the Spanish women's tennis team photographed similarly before a Federation Cup match four months ago. Oh, and this one, which the Chicago Tribune unearthed this afternoon.
I was hesitant to pounce on the first picture. I've been around enough athletes to have seen all of the hoops they're asked to jump through on a daily basis. "Stand like this." "Pose like that." "Wear this wig." "Stick your butt out and say 'Donkeys!'" Spanish men's player Pau Gasol seemed to be genuinely contrite when he apologized, and Jose Calderon explained that the team had been asked "to pose with a 'wink' to our participation in Beijing," suggesting that they simply hadn't stopped to think about what they were being asked (perhaps told) to do.
Excusable? Hardly, especially now when you consider that the women's team appears to have posed twice, nixing the "they didn't really have time to think about what they were doing" argument. So why aren't we hearing more about this? And why is Spain getting a free pass when, Jason Kidd points out, the U.S. team most likely would have gotten more flack for such an act? What do you think would have happened if it had been Kidd, LeBron and Kobe with their fingers to their eyes? Bob Costas would be talking about it a little bit more, for one. What do you think?