OPINION | Barry Richard: USA’s White Owns Flag Misstep
Shaun White made us proud and then made us gasp all within the span of a few minutes last night in Pyeongchang as he captured a gold medal and then proceeded to drag the American flag across the ground.
The 31-year-old White put up a near perfect score to win the gold for the men's snowboard halfpipe. The win makes him the first American male to win gold in three different Winter Games. The California native previously won the gold in the men’s snowboarding halfpipe in the Turin Games in 2006, and in Vancouver in 2010.
White's gold medal was Team USA's 100th gold medal in Winter Olympics history.
While celebrating his victory, White carelessly dragged the American flag he'd been handed across the ground and appeared to have stepped on it at one point.
Given the current environment with athletes, mainly NFL players disrespecting the flag by refusing to stand for the National Anthem, White's misstep quickly ignited a firestorm on social media. Asked about the incident a short time later by the press, White offered what appears to be a heartfelt apology:
“I remember being handed the flag but I was trying to put my gloves on and hold the flag and get board.”
“Honestly, if there was anything, I definitely didn’t mean any disrespect. The flag that’s flying on my house right now is way up there."
"So sorry for that. But I’m definitely proud — very proud — to be a part of Team USA and being an American and to be representing for everyone back home."
White's mistake is certainly forgivable. His response to his actions, when made aware of what happened, was the right one. White should not be punished by advertisers, fans or anyone else. He owned his mistake.
White's reaction to his mistake and his obvious respect for the flag is in contrast to the utter disrespect that was on display during the NFL season.
The NFL should learn a lesson from the humility displayed by Shaun White during and after his great Olympic victory.
Editor's Note: Barry Richard is the afternoon host on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from Noon-3pm. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.