It wasn’t hard to spot who fans by and large were pulling for in the semifinals of the women’s indoor volleyball competition between Serbia and the United States. It was obvious everyone in the building wanted the USA to lose besides those wearing red, white, and blue. Was this just the typical fans pulling for the underdog story, or have incidents involving United States athletes detracted from their superior performances in the Summer Olympics?
Sure, there have been some great stories. Michael Phelps winning five gold medals and a silver medal at the age of 31. Katie Ledecky swimming laps around the competition to do the same and establishing herself as the future Phelps of women’s swimming. Simone Biles continuing her reign as one of the best gymnasts to ever grace the arena. However, for every great story, there seems to be an equally bizarre or unsportsmanlike attitude that United States athletes have been at the center of.
Certainly, nothing is more obvious than the fiasco that is surrounding one of America’s most decorated swimmers, Ryan Lochte. According to CNN, two of the other swimmers with Lochte are now on there way home with revised statements that they were not in fact robbed. This has led the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) to issue a formal apology.
“The behavior of these athletes is not acceptable, nor does it represent the values of Team USA or the conduct of the vast majority of its members. We will further review the matter, and any potential consequences for the athletes, when we return to the United States.
“The behavior of these athletes is not acceptable, nor does it represent the values of Team USA or the conduct of the vast majority of its members.”
Despite what the USOC has to say about the values of America’s athletes, the women’s soccer team have had their issues in Rio as well. They leave a lot less liked than they were when they arrived. Hope Solo is behind a lot of this, and she proved she doesn’t take a loss very well after Sweden knocked them out in the quarterfinals.
Solo painted herself as the villain before even arriving in Rio. She was more than outspoken about how she felt about the Brazilian city, and the fans let her have it every chance they had. Then, to call a team like Sweden “cowards” for sticking to a game plan shows she is nothing but a sore loser.
In their defense, Solo’s teammates have been trying to repair the damage done from the goalie’s statements. Alex Morgan spoke with USA Today, mentioning that her feelings didn’t reflect those of Solo’s. Megan Rapinoe was also critical of the statements when talking to NBC Sports, but the damage has been done.
These are just two incidents where United States athletes walk away looking like the villains. There are other examples that could be noted. USA basketball players showing up in a brothel and acting like they had no idea what kind of place it was. To an extent, Lilly King being so incredibly critical of Russian swimmer Yulia Efimova even after beating her.
It’s unfortunate, but at the end of the day, these Rio games which should have been celebrated by United States dominance will most likely be remembered for what happened out of the pool or off the pitch. Which is a shame especially for someone like Simone Manuel who should be the story, and instead four of her teammates are.
In two years, the Winter Olympics will be held in Korea. It will be interesting how the USOC will handle United States athletes. Will it be business as usual, or will they look to enact measures that will ensure that the “values of Team USA” are represented as they stated?
[Photo by Matt Hazlett/Getty Images]