Shaun White doesn’t deserve a spot at the Beijing Games

Keep it at home.

Keep it at home.
Picture: Getty Images

The 2022 Winter Olympics are almost here and that means everyone needs to prepare for their checklist of American winter athletes. Let’s see here. Lindsey Vonn retired, so she left. Mikaela Shiffrin is not the new Vonn, she is significantly better and will likely win a gold or two. Fan favorite Chloe Kim is also the favorite to bring home the women’s halfpipe snowboarding. Nathen Chen is the name every figure skating fan will hear.

And then there’s Shaun White. He did not qualify for the games still due to ankle injury and COVID, but even if he doesn’t qualify by competition, there are up to three discretionary spots available, and it’s hard to imagine he wouldn’t receive one, according to the Associated Press. He’s been the face of American men’s snowboarding for almost two decades and has said the 2022 Games will likely be his last, so betting on him donning a red, white and blue snowsuit is probably a good bet.

However, maybe he shouldn’t be given a career-wide berth and a few farewell tricks. Damn, even if he qualifies he might be better off leaving the United States. In 2017, White moved to a sexual harassment trial with Lena Zawaideh, a former drummer in his (I guess) shitty band Bad Things.

The lawsuit alleged that “White sent Zawaideh sexually explicit and graphic images of engorged and erect penises, forced her to watch sexually disturbing videos, including videos sexualizing human feces, and made remarks to her vulgar sexuality. “

Other details of the costume depict him as controlling and using his role as financier to impose “a strict diet on Zawaideh, going so far as to require that she cut her hair, wear sexually revealing clothes and underwear, and refrain from wearing red lipstick – his own personal signature.

White’s attorney previously said the lawsuit was unfounded.

The lawsuit appeared in coverage of the 2018 Olympics (with a boost from the #MeToo movement), and White was even asked about it at the Games. His response was that he was there “to talk about the Olympics, not, you know, gossip.”

He continued, “I am who I am, and I’m proud of who I am, and my friends love me and vouch for me, and I think that goes without saying.”

He apologized for using the word gossip, and no, you know, for acting like complete shit.

After the backlash of his unapologetic apologies and the resurfacing trial, including a microphone jack by Christine Brennan of USA Today, it issued a more in-depth statement by The New York Times.

“I regret my behavior of many years ago and I’m sorry that I made someone – especially someone I considered a friend – uncomfortable.” He added that he had since “grown and changed as a person, as we all grow and change, and I’m proud of who I am today.”

However, as the Today’s show hosts In this clip, NBC continues to poke fun at White. He is the second person on their list of U.S. athletes to watch at the 2022 Winter Olympics, in addition to appearing on the Today Show to promote his “Final Round”. (At the time, Caroline Framke was doing a great breakdown of NBC’s glowing / problematic coverage of Olympic athletes and the network’s symbiotic relationship with them.)

I’m not trying to repeat the news cycle and get it canceled because we should be past that already. The guy has taken a sabbatical from snowboarding for the past three years, comes back, finished seventh and eighth in a few competitions, hurt his ankle and will probably still have a spot on the squad because he’s Shaun White? Nah, I’m not here for that. He shouldn’t go to Beijing because there are two results here, and both are crap.

The most likely outcome is that he’s a distraction finishing on the podium because – aside from NBC – people never forget, and Japan’s Ayumu Hirano and Yūto Totsuka, and Australian Scotty James are the favorites for the medal. The less likely option is that he miraculously wins gold, NBC stumbles upon himself covering the story and openly proving that white male privilege is alive and well. Yes, I know he’s never died, but an American literally named “White” gets a big start at his sport’s most important competition despite a sexual harassment lawsuit settled – and acts like a jerk about it – it’s too much.

Overall, there aren’t a ton of familiar names to these Winter Olympics. Outside of X Games fans or people like me who have spent most of the last decade working for a newspaper in a ski town, few people know of athletes like David Wise, Alex Ferreira and Red Gerard who deserve more of the Olympic spotlight, but it’s about time they found out.


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