Greeson: Taking an issue with this taking a knee

Greeson: Taking an issue with this taking a knee

August 13th, 2019 by Jay Greeson in Opinion Columns

In this Friday, Aug. 9, 2019 photo, released by Lima 2019 News Services, Race Imboden of the United States takes a knee, as teammates Mick Itkin and Gerek Meinhardt stand on the podium after winning the gold medal in team's foil, at the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru. "Racism, gun control, mistreatment of immigrants, and a president who spreads hate are at the top of a long list" of America's problems, Imboden said in a tweet sent after his medals ceremony. "I chose to sacrifice my moment today at the top of the podium to call attention to issues that I believe need to be addressed. (Jose Sotomayor/Lima 2019 News Services via AP)

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

Race Imboden is an American fencing competitor. He's really good at what he does.

Gwen Berry is an American track and field athlete specializing in the hammer throw. She also is very good at what she does.

In fact, they each won medals in their fields last weekend at the Pan-Am Games, the red-headed sideshow to the Olympic Games.

Cool, right?


Imboden took his moment in the sun to take a knee on the medal stand. Berry likewise made her gold-medal stand about social commentary, bowing her head and raising a clenched fist.

Jay Greeson

Jay Greeson

Photo by Dan Henry /Times Free Press.

Cool, right?

Wrong. But not for the simple ways you may think.

Regular readers around these parts are well aware that I understand athletes' rights to refuse a White House invitation, or Colin Kaepernick's right to kneel whenever he so desires.

I don't necessarily agree with those decisions, but my agreement does not infringe on the rights of others to do so.

Here's Imboden's tweet for why he took a knee during his trips to the medal ceremonies over the weekend: "We must call for change. This week I am honored to represent Team USA at the Pan Am Games, taking home Gold and Bronze. My pride however has been cut short by the multiple shortcomings of the country I hold so dear to my heart. Racism, Gun Control, mistreatment of immigrants."

OK, but making the final moment about himself and his opinions — not unlike Berry making this about her views — is worse than troubling.

Their weekend about-me protests are different from those of Kaepernick and the White House boycotters, beyond the fact that these athletes were representing their country, which is paying for their training, travel and everything in between.

Before the PanAm Games, according to U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee Vice President Mark Jones, was a commitment from every athlete not to do exactly what they did.

So while some may think grandstanding about social issues on the medal stand makes you one thing, I disagree.

These particular protests did not make Imboden or Berry a protestor or a patriot.

Their protests made them liars.

Here are Jones' quotes in a statement: "Every athlete competing at the 2019 Pan American Games commits to terms of eligibility, including to refrain from demonstrations that are political in nature. In these cases, the athletes didn't adhere to the commitment they made to the organizing committee and the USOPC.

"We respect their rights to express their viewpoints, but we are disappointed that they chose not to honor their commitment. Our leadership are reviewing what consequences may result."

It's clear Imboden and Berry looked at the commitment, decided to lie about it, ignore their commitment to it, take the medal for personal gratification and then magnify that with personal statements.

The issue is clear, and the question has an easy answer.

Kick them off the teams, period.

What is the foundation of every successful "team" — sports, business, family, whatever — even in individual sports?


And those athletes either punched a hole in that trust or kneeled — and pooped — on that trust.

That's putting the "I" in issue, for sure.

Contact Jay Greeson at

Getting Started/Comments Policy

Getting started

  1. 1. If you frequently comment on news websites then you may already have a Disqus account. If so, click the "Login" button at the top right of the comment widget and choose whether you'd rather log in with Facebook, Twitter, Google, or a Disqus account.
  2. 2. If you've forgotten your password, Disqus will email you a link that will allow you to create a new one. Easy!
  3. 3. If you're not a member yet, Disqus will go ahead and register you. It's seamless and takes about 10 seconds.
  4. 4. To register, either go through the login process or just click in the box that says "join the discussion," type your comment, and either choose a social media platform to log you in or create a Disqus account with your email address.
  5. 5. If you use Twitter, Facebook or Google to log in, you will need to stay logged into that platform in order to comment. If you create a Disqus account instead, you'll need to remember your Disqus password. Either way, you can change your display name if you'd rather not show off your real name.
  6. 6. Don't be a huge jerk or do anything illegal, and you'll be fine.

Chattanooga Times Free Press Comments Policy

The Chattanooga Times Free Press web sites include interactive areas in which users can express opinions and share ideas and information. We cannot and do not monitor all of the material submitted to the website. Additionally, we do not control, and are not responsible for, content submitted by users. By using the web sites, you may be exposed to content that you may find offensive, indecent, inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise objectionable. You agree that you must evaluate, and bear all risks associated with, the use of the Times Free Press web sites and any content on the Times Free Press web sites, including, but not limited to, whether you should rely on such content. Notwithstanding the foregoing, you acknowledge that we shall have the right (but not the obligation) to review any content that you have submitted to the Times Free Press, and to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content that we determine, in our sole discretion, (a) does not comply with the terms and conditions of this agreement; (b) might violate any law, infringe upon the rights of third parties, or subject us to liability for any reason; or (c) might adversely affect our public image, reputation or goodwill. Moreover, we reserve the right to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content at any time, for the reasons set forth above, for any other reason, or for no reason. If you believe that any content on any of the Times Free Press websites infringes upon any copyrights that you own, please contact us pursuant to the procedures outlined in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (Title 17 U.S.C. § 512) at the following address:

Copyright Agent
The Chattanooga Times Free Press
400 East 11th Street
Chattanooga, TN 37403
Phone: 423-757-6315