Heather Harris: Pros and cons

Heather Harris

Things got ugly the other day when I criticized the USA men’s basketball team for trouncing Nigeria, 156-73, at the London Olympics.

I posted on Facebook how I was disgusted and embarrassed by the sad spectacle of one country bullying another, and how the Olympics should be for amateurs only.

Well, 128 posts later, you would have thought I deliberately ran over a dog with my car. People flat out attacked me on my view.

“Sorry folks the point of the Olympics is competing your best with your best, not worrying about the self-esteem of other nations,” posted one friend.

“I am going to have to completely disagree with you. In gymnastics we (The USA) sent over our best athletes, our best chance at winning gold right? Just because there is a huge disparity between the best basketball players from the US and the rest of the world doesn't mean that shouldn't play or represent our country,” said another.

Oops. I guess I opened up a can of worms.

I did my best to defend my point of view.

I realize that the Games have changed and realize that I’m somewhat in the minority when it comes to not sending over the pros.

As one friend pointed out, most athletes that compete in the Olympics are professionals, not just in basketball.

Then don’t send over ANY pros. The rules that were put in place should be part of the challenge of getting there, amateurs only. As with many of our laws in this country, we have altered the rules in order win the most medals.

I was always drawn to the Olympics for the untold stories and goose bump moments. It is the spirit of the games that moves me. I want to see the athletes with talent that don’t have the coaches, the money, the equipment and enhancers or have been sent to live in training camps out of the womb.

It’s about stopping mid-race to help your fellow Olympian cross the finish line when they’ve blown a hamstring. It’s about seeing the lone Iraqi woman competing on the world stage. It’s about representing your country, your family, yourself.

I know, I know, the point now is to send our best to compete against the world’s best. Then change the name to “World Games”.

I realize the amateurs would not bring in the same volume of viewers or be as interesting for the masses. But I for one would want to watch, to see the purity of sport return.

It makes me sad to realize this is where we are as a society.

One of my friend’s commented, “I can do without the medal count as well. Put it on the website for those who need to keep score in that dept. I don't need the constant reminders on screen. We don't get a gold medal for winning the most gold medals...you know?”

Maybe I'm a little Polly Anna but I'd like to see a platform where people with talent but not the privilege come to compete in a sportsmanlike fashion. I realize in taking my position, it’s a losing battle.

As one friend so rationally put,

“Ehh, I guess in the end everyone has their own opinion; and we all know what they say about opinions.”

Heather Harris is reporter for the Norton Mirror, Mansfield News and Easton Journal in Massachusetts. A three-sport high school athlete and two-sport college athlete, sports have long been a passion of hers. The mother of two can be seen running through the streets of Mansfield where she currently resides. Heather can be reached at hharris@wickedlocal.com