The long-awaited Tokyo Olympics (still officially known as the 2020 Olympics) kicked off last Friday after having been postponed for a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. While I’d normally relish any opportunity to celebrate my beloved country in an international competition, I couldn’t help but feel unusually disinterested in this year’s games.

At first, I didn’t know why. I hadn’t always been this apathetic.

During the last Summer Olympics, I remember excitedly (and proudly) buying a Team USA t-shirt. I remember my delight in knowing that our athletes pulled in a whopping 46 Gold Medals. Most of all, I remember my joy in learning that the United States had, with its 121 total medals, easily come in first place, trouncing China’s 71 medals and Great Britain’s 67.

This year, however, I’ve felt differently. Judging by headlines such as “Olympic Ratings Plunge” (Variety) and “Tokyo Olympics ratings are a disappointment” (MarketWatch), I’m not the only one. According to an ABC News story from July 27, “for three straight nights, viewership for the Tokyo Games has been down more than 30% compared to the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016.”

While there are multiple factors contributing to this sizable decline in viewership, no one in the mainstream media seems willing to acknowledge the negative effect that “wokism” has had on the event. Far from viewing it as a “negative effect,” most news outlets actually seem to consider the political messaging that has permeated sports to be a positive, worthwhile necessity.

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Take, for example, former New York Times sports columnist, William Rhoden, who recently confessed that he felt disturbed by the appearance of the American flag during the Olympic opening ceremony due to his association of the flag to the January 6 Capitol Riots. He then proceeded to “justify” his politically divisive remarks by insisting that “these Olympics should be a time of soul searching.”

This may sound nice to the politically correct media pundits who’ve bowed to the pressures of the woke mob. There’s just one problem: a huge amount of Americans simply don’t agree with Rhoden’s dogma.

When we watch the Olympics, we couldn’t care less about having “a time of soul searching.”  We simply want to be entertained. We want to enjoy a showcase of the world’s most talented athletes. We want to feel the thrill of excitement that comes from supporting a hometown contestant, or the pride of cheering on Team USA as it celebrates a sweet victory.

At its best, the Olympics should be a temporary escape from the world of politics and discord into a world where all that really matters is hard work and determination. The unifying effect that such an escape can have on our country is tremendous. It’s only when politics and division are dragged back into the equation that the effect is broken.

Of course, the “politicizing” of the Olympics expands far beyond Rhoden’s absurd discomfort at seeing the American flag during the opening ceremony. From all of the players on the U.S. women’s soccer team taking a knee in support of Black Lives Matter to the controversy surrounding Gwen Berry’s conceited disrespect of the flag during the National Anthem, an alarming amount of American athletes have wholeheartedly embraced “wokism.” And as indicated by the poor ratings, the result has been disastrous.

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It’s obvious that Americans are tired of the Left’s fusion of politics into entertainment. If we really wanted to hear more about our society’s problems we could watch the news or read a newspaper, but for all of us who sometimes need a break from the polarized messaging, sports should be the perfect getaway.

That doesn’t mean entertainment should never be used as a medium to promote certain messages or inspire change, but there’s a distinct line of difference between using entertainment to teach lessons and using it to make viewers feel bad for their political values. Shaming the country that is loved by millions clearly crosses that line.

Having said that, I want to make it clear that just because many of this year’s contestants have crossed the line, doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the Olympics at all. I’ll admit that as I was writing this, I gradually found myself getting sucked back into the exhilaration of supporting our incredibly talented athletes, specifically those who aren’t openly promoting values I disagree with. 

Thankfully, there are still those sweet moments – such as 17-year-old Lydia Jacoby’s friends excitedly celebrating her stunning first-place victory or Lee Kiefer emotionally pulling in an historic Gold medal for the United States – that remind me of everything the Olympics can and should be.

I love America, and I don’t enjoy watching her lose at anything. The Olympic Games are no exception. So just keep the woke politics out of it, and I, for one, will be cheering on Team USA.