Now that the 2020 Tokyo Olympics are in the rearview mirror, one of the more prominent stories that became front and center was an ESPN sportswriter who became extremely disturbed by the number of American flags being displayed at the Games. But it’s not for what you might think. William Rhoden, who has been writing ESPN’s sports section called The Undefeatedsince 2016, likened the number of American flags waving in the wind by athletic participants as a memory he wanted to forget. He was so troubled by the flags, as it reminded him of the January 6th riots on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C.
As sad and tragic as that day was etched into the psyche of the world around it truly triggered Rhoden into a state of confusion and reflection. William Rhoden is a legendary journalist, an award-winning writer, and author who worked for the New York Times as a columnist from 1983 until 2016 when he moved on to join ESPN. He’s covered several years of the Olympic Games, however, this particular event had a humbling tone to it for him. First off, with the coronavirus initially canceling the Games in 2020, something already felt odd. Then the events of January 6th took place and brought the entire country to its knees. He proclaimed “So now when I see the flag and the flag raised, what — what America am I living in? You know, are the ones that don’t think, you know, we should be here?” he went on, referring to him and other African Americans. Rhoden wasn’t suggesting that the USA’s Olympic Team representation was harboring racist views, however, he sensed the struggling within certain American teams–mainly basketball, soccer, and the men’s track team–that showed a level of humbleness with respect to the views of entitlement and privilege.
— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) July 26, 2021
After his reporting on the Olympics, Rhoden went on to say that the 2020 Tokyo Games “should be a time of soul searching and winning sometimes is antithetic to soul searching.” He felt the Olympics should have been canceled due to the resurgence of hundreds of new coronavirus cases. In several YouTube interviews, Rhoden also claimed the American flag was divisive at a time such as these, and he essentially became disgusted with the entire display. Since he’s been covering sports for so many years, this particular Olympics and the American flag shocked him to no end. More so because he believed it took the country back to that fateful January day where thousands of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in an effort to overturn the 2020 election. He saw the American flags at the Tokyo Games as a sign of white Nationalism and believed the entire thing wasn’t good for America or the country as a whole. William Rhoden definitely shined a light on something new to think about, and as a legendary journalist in his field, perhaps he was right all along.