The Winter Olympics are happening. Crazy what you learn when you wake up on a random Wednesday.
No, seriously. If not for a few sportswriter friends who have the unbelievably awesome job of covering the Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, and are sharing their experiences on Twitter, I would have never known the pinnacle event of winter sports was happening this week.
I do know Shaun White. Who doesn’t know The Flying Tomato?
White is the most well-known male athlete at these Games (Lindsey Vonn may take the overall title). He won his event Tuesday, the halfpipe — whatever that is — for the third time in four tries at the Olympics. Social media was ablaze. The Flying Tomato is back.
Then, the real attention came, not the kind these Games require.
In August 2016, White was sued by a drummer in his rock band who accused him of “repeated” sexual harassment and failing to pay her salary after she was fired. Tuesday, following his win, the superstar snowboarder was asked if the allegations would “tarnish” this win.
“I’m here to talk about the Olympics, not gossip and stuff,” White said.
Hours later, White apologized for his dense remark. It hardly mattered. The most famous man at an event that desperately needs someone — anyone — to pay attention to it alienated a large group who may be so inclined.
White’s comments are hardly a surprise. It seems every week there’s a new allegation against another person who can’t understand the gravity it carries. White, like all others, is entitled to due process.
Respecting a legion of survivors along the way is the least he could do — for himself and his sport.