U.S. Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn recently sat down with CNN to discuss the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea. The decorated athlete sat out the 2014 Winter Olympics due to a knee injury but has her eyes set on a comeback, which will likely serve as a farewell to her career on Olympic slopes.
But the interview seemed focused less on Vonn’s Olympics hopes and more as a platform for her to express disdain for the president, saying she would neither accept an invitation to the White House if invited nor would it be President Trump she’d represent at the Olympic Games. That’s great, considering no U.S. president in American history has ever chartered his own national ski team.
Vonn seems to be hopping on the tired trend of musicians, actors, athletes, and other celebrities renouncing ties to President Trump instead of focusing their time and talent on creating, expressing, or performing. #NotMyPresident was a national trend on Twitter for weeks while Colin Kaepernick, who infamously started the NFL’s anti-Trump #TakeAKnee movement in response to police brutality, was just awarded the Sports Illustrated Muhammad Ali Legacy Award. That award was presented to him by none other than Beyoncé, whose 2016 hit “Formation,” also a response to police brutality and a colloquial anti-Trump anthem, is the most awarded song of all time.
Let’s Get Some Perspective, Ma’am
What Vonn doesn’t seem to understand is that the very people she purports to represent are, in fact, what the Olympics are about. Any Olympian blessed enough to be given the opportunity to compete at that level already represents the very best ideals and principles of the American people, regardless of who holds the seat in the executive branch.
Vonn is free to express whatever political beliefs she may have. U.S. Olympians aren’t obligated to profess allegiance to the federal government once they hit the podium. But her decision to take her eyes off the honor of representing the American people and instead channeling her energy into renouncing a role she doesn’t fulfill reflects a trend of ridiculously blessed celebrities who don’t seem to realize that the very nation they spend countless hours condemning is the same one that has paved the way for their successes.
Interestingly enough, a simple Google search reveals some inconsistencies with Vonn’s anti-Trump narrative and the corporations she allows to sponsor her. The 33-year-old skier has been competing since childhood. Besides holding 77 World Cup wins, 7 gold World Championship medals, and an Olympic gold, she has racked up sponsors. The most prominent of those include Rolex, The Hershey Company, and Under Armor. This means Vonn has chosen some intriguing bedfellows if she remains intent on using her screen time to blast Trump.
Don’t Throw Stones in Glass Houses
Earlier this year, Rolex was dragged through the mud for sponsoring the U.S. Women’s Open at a Trump-owned golf course, fueling what began as a quiet controversy into an absurd display of political allegiances that, shockingly enough, had little to do with luxury watches or the game of golf.
A few months back, Under Armor CEO Kevin Plank was lambasted for his support of President Trump and acceptance of a position on the president’s Manufacturing Council. He ultimately stepped down from the council in an attempt to remove the corporation from the controversy surrounding a man simply wanting to work alongside the president of the United States to revitalize the economy and help spur job creation. Despite ties to a man Vonn seems to so deeply abhor, she doesn’t seem to take issue with accepting cushy sponsorships from Trump apologists.
Perhaps most interesting among the cohort of Vonn sponsors is The Hershey Company, which was yanked into a child labor controversy a number of years ago and slapped with a $283,000 fine by the Labor Department for health and safety violations, including the cover-up of a number of serious injuries at a chocolate plant.
Let’s clarify that: Vonn believes that, by downplaying the honor of representing the United States at the most notable sports competition on the globe by reproving a president whose politics she disagrees with, she’s somehow fulfilling a civic duty that was never placed on her shoulders. But the repugnance of accepting a corporate sponsorship from a company with sketchy-at-best ties to child labor violations somehow doesn’t contrast with her plight as a good citizen.
Despite what Vonn, Kaepernick, or Beyoncé might have you believe, America is so much more than who’s at the helm, and the best and brightest of what this country stands for doesn’t waver with the fluctuation of the president’s approval rating. Perhaps instead of spending her time excoriating a president she doesn’t have to worry about representing at the 2018 Winter Olympics, she should strongly consider aligning herself with sponsors who more accurately reflect the American principles she says she’s happy to represent. Or at least she should consider how blessed she is to represent the luckiest citizens on the planet in making an Olympic comeback at all.