July 2, 2012

What do Jeneba Tarmoh and Elizabeth Price Have in Common With OJ Simpson?

I know how white folks felt after O.J. Simpson was acquitted that first time. I know how Black folks felt after George Zimmerman was initially released from police custody after he killed Trayvon Martin. Robbed. Hoodwinked. Bamboozled.

Every four years I get hooked into the Summer Olympics. I don't much follow track or gymnastics any other time ... but, 2012 is an Olympics year so I find myself watching the Olympic coverage.

Last week I watched the 100-meter women's sprint, in which the top 3 sprinters earn a spot on the 2012 USA Olympics team. Carmelita Jeter and Tianna Madison were clear-cut winners of that race. The battle for the third and final spot on the US team was very close between Jeneba Tarmoh and Allyson Felix ... however, my eyeballs told me that Tarmoh won ... and the electronic timer confirmed my eyeballs when it declared that Tarmoh beat Felix by .001 second.  Felix (and her corporate sponsors) expressed disappointment. Tarmoh took a victory lap and answered questions during a press conference after the race.

However, within an hour of the race everything changed. USA Track and Field officials said that it was a tie between Tarmoh and Felix and that the tiebreaker would be completed with either a coin-flip or race-off.

It smelled like the fix was in to me ... and others feel the same way. Felix is the 'face of track and field'. She is a darling of Corporate America. A whole lot of commercials became obsolete when she was declared a loser by .001. Also, the way she lost didn't give a lot of hope that Felix would earn a spot on her remaining event ... the 200-meter sprint.

It turns out that Felix creamed her opponents in the 200-meter sprint. She easily earned a spot on the team with her victory in that longer sprint. I thought she was going to be gracious and give the slot on the 100-meter team to Tarmoh. But, she didn't. She insisted on a run-off that was scheduled to take place today.

All of that changed earlier today when the winner-take-all race was called off by Tarmoh who wrote,
"I, Jeneba Tarmoh, have decided to decline my 3rd place position in the 100m dash to Allyson Felix," Tarmoh wrote in the email. "I understand that with this decision I am no longer running the 100m dash in the Olympic Games and will be an alternate for the event. As an alternate I understand that I will be asked to run if another 100m runner decides not to for personal reasons, and/or on the 4x100m relay."
A less-publicized travesty of Olympic justice occurred last night when the 5-person USA women's gymnastic team was selected. Elizabeth 'Ebee' Price had the 2-day meet of her life ... and she had the 4th-highest all-around score at the Olympic trials. Although Price finished fourth over the weekend in the trials, she was not selected to the five-person team to compete in London. Only the winner of the trials gets an automatic slot. The other four members were chosen by a three-person committee.

McKayla Maroney finished 7th in the trials ... but, she was selected for the team instead of Price. Can you say robbed, hoodwinked and bamboozled? I bet that the family and friends of Ebee are using one or all of these words as they look at this picture of the 2012 USA Women's Gymnastics team.

Would it have been too much to ask for two Black women to be on the team? Or is the unwritten rule that only one sister at a time can represent America on the national team?

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