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Sports Imperialism Could Take a Huge Hit in the 2018 Olympic Games!

It appears it is really gonna happen:  NO NHL players in the Olympic Games in South Korea 2018.  Here’s some confirmation:

Now some background for my new readers from a prior Sanders blog post:

One of the most clever (because of its radicalism) strategies of William Lloyd Garrison and the abolitionists was the adoption of the rallying cry:  No Union With Slaveholders!

Its radicalism was as simple as it was breathtaking:  The free states should simply secede from the Union and establish a free commonwealth where slavery would be forever illegal and there would be as national policy (unlike both the original Constitution and the Fugitive Slave Acts) would be non-cooperation with slaveholders.

That’s what I want to unveil (sort of again) today as we again take on the sports imperialism of pro athletes in the Olympic Games.  By making the Games largely the province of larger and more prosperous nations, probably to help ensure TV ratings in those nations, especially the US, it skews the competition so that there are few if any chances for a medal for smaller and less prosperous nations.  This is what I call “Sports Imperialism”.  The worst offender is the USA Basketball team/program.

So today I say:  No rooting for sports imperialists!  If a sports has pro athletes in it, simply decline to watch the events.  Or even root for the team.  The USA Basketball Team is hardly representative of the American people.

This is radical.  It is a reason I empathize smaller nations who win their first medal – the Sanders Olympic Policy:

  • Root hard for USA in all non-pro sports especially…
  • Sports like fencing where we do not traditionally do well!
  • Root for the USA [reluctantly] in sports like Golf where there are all pro athletes but a blog blackout on those sports…
  • Unless a new nation wins a pro sport and we’ll cheer with flag (I have a small flag of most of the Olympic nations) and national anthem AND
  • The Victory Lap Rule goes for any other new nation and we’ll extend that rule to first gold medal too!
  • At least for men’s basketball – they’ve on their own.  It takes more than wearing the USA to truly represent the USA.

Some of my readers will think I have gone all Kaepernick (I wish the sports writers were more concerned about sports imperialism rather than Kaepernick making an NFL roster!) all of a sudden, but this is a matter of principle.  If you want a World Cup of Hockey – fill the teams with pros but not the Olympics.  So I decided, I won’t watch the pros or root for the USA in a pro sport in the Games.  I just won’t do it.  And you shouldn’t do it either.  Ratings run the Olympics – otherwise they’ve never have kicked out WRESTLING from the Olympic Games a few years ago.  And the basketball situation is still awful, approaching titles of nobility.

So this is great news (I will do a victory lap when the rosters are announced) although some minor league players not under NHL contract could still play.

Players with NHL contracts, even those in the minors, will not be allowed to participate in the Winter Olympics next February.


“A decision has been made that all players under NHL contract will be subject to similar treatment,” Daly said.

This means players signed to two-way NHL contracts or who are loaned to minor league affiliates by their clubs won’t be available to the United States, Canada or other national teams. The AHL said earlier this summer that general managers could decide to allow players on AHL contracts to play in South Korea.

This will result in the best team (by my standards) in recent Olympics – still perhaps somewhat compromised and technically not up to Sanders rooting standards:

The U.S. team is expected to be made up of a mix of current college players, those on AHL deals and professionals playing in European leagues.

In this USA Today article, we learn that fewer pro players results in what I stated it would:  More nations have a fighting chance to medal (emphasis added):

Kelleher said the absence of NHL players means a tighter, more wide-open event. “This tournament could highlight each country’s depth, and we think we have greater depth than we’ve ever had,” Kelleher said.

There is even talk of a Miracle on Ice 2018 (you’d think the USA would have had a total solar eclipse first before this happened!):

Today’s young American hockey players have grown up believing the dream of playing in the Olympics before turning pro only happens in movies.

“I watched ‘Miracle’ and that’s how it used to be,” University of Denver player Troy Terry told USA TODAY Sports. “It was pretty cool.  That’s a little different than the Olympics I’ve grown up watching.”

That is the other reason pro athletes have no business in the Games!  It squeezes out worthy amateurs.  But this is better than previous years.  Of course there are whiners:

But for a lot of Team USA fans, 2018 was circled as a big opportunity with the arrivals of Matthews and Eichel. Finally, the Americans could’ve gone toe-to-toe up the middle with the best teams in the world.

Except now that won’t happen, and it’s a bummer for everyone involved. At least there’s always 2022 in Beijing.

Not a bummer for me.  it’s a start for simple justice to the smaller nations, unable to have a pro league or enough people to stack a pro team.  And the amateur athletes, too.

This is NOT acceptable to me as there are still pros in the game.  No Union With Slaveholders!  No Rooting for Sports Imperialism!

But I will decide closer in time to the Games if this is a situation I can live with and root for USA hockey and watch the games.  We’ll see.  One important consideration is whether I want to encourage watching hockey to run up ratings as the Olympics are driven by TV money and ratings.  I think a Miracle on Ice might just do it. Maybe root for USA and the nations with the fewest pros on their team.

And I was all ready to root again for our NEW First Lady’s team in 2018:  Slovenia.

Now if you want to talk curling – the BEST sport in the Games!  No sports imperialism in curling!  If it weren’t for watching US men’s curling win a bronze medal in 2006, and convincing my wife in 2010 we need curling in VA, we might not have this:  The Curling Club of Virginia, Inc.  (Of course any endeavor was a team effort and the team of people – many of whom knew the nuts and bolts of curling better than I – were magnificent.  Go out and see some curling this winter!).  Of course I have been out of the curling game for some time and my opinions are not in any way the club’s opinions.

Well, this site has USA winning the bronze medal in the men’s curling!  Let’s hope he’s right.




About Elwood Sanders

Elwood "Sandy" Sanders is a Hanover attorney who is an Appellate Procedure Consultant for Lantagne Legal Printing and has written ten scholarly legal articles. Sandy was also Virginia's first Appellate Defender and also helped bring curling in VA! (None of these titles imply any endorsement of Sanders’ views)

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