A Stones Throw 9-8-16

39

I have to admit, before this year’s Olympic Games, I had never heard of Simone Manuel. After the Olympic Games, I would probably not have heard of Simone Manuel if she hadn’t been discussed, displayed, and touted as the first African American woman to win a gold medal in swimming.

So?

My interest was simply that Simone Manuel won gold medals in swimming just like Katie Ledecky. Which was fine because I had never heard of Katie Ledecky before the Olympics either.

When the Games ended, both Simone and Katie moved into my memory stream along with a multitude of the names of other medal winners and near medal winners.

Most of which I don’t remember.

That is until last week.

Last week I watched an interview with Simone Manuel. It didn’t take long to realize that she is very intelligent, very well-spoken, and one whose values are in education and team – not in greed.

Being the first African American swimming gold medal winner; being almost runway model beautiful; and, being intelligent and well-spoken, Manuel left Rio with untold millions of dollars waiting for her as a representative and spokesperson to everything from Speedo swim suits to Kellogg Corn Flakes, with Nike, Adidas, and many others in between.

The big problem was deciding who to sign with – who to get her millions from.

For Simone Manuel it was never a question.

She won’t get any of those millions. Instead, Simone is going to Stanford University to get her education. While at Stanford she will join fellow Olympic gold medal winner and world record holder Katie Ledecky who also chose to forgo the millions of dollars available to her in order to continue her Stanford education, on the Stanford women’s swim team.

While it is easy to question their decisions, I have to respect both of them. Each has chosen education and team over instant wealth

On the other hand, there is Joey Bosa the college All-America defensive end from last year’s Ohio State Buckeyes. After a brilliant football career at Ohio State, Bosa was selected third in this year’s National Football League draft by the Sand Diego Chargers.

Being the third pick, Bosa was guaranteed a four-year contract which included guaranteed $17.5 million bonus dollars. The Chargers offered Bosa $15 million dollars (that is $15,000,000) immediately, with the other $2.5 million dollars to be paid next March.

All he needed to do was sign on the bottom line.

Bosa refused to sign.

Apparently, $15 million wasn’t enough to hold him over until March. Bosa demanded the final $2.5 million be paid in December. Without it, he was not going to sign a contract. Without it, he was not going to join his new team.

While again one can argue Bosa had a right to hold out, even if his holdout could hurt his new team, I find the difference in thinking between Joey Bosa and Simone Manuel interesting.

One picked team over money – the other money over team.

Each had the right to make the decision they made.

Just as Colin Kaepernick, the San Francisco 49er quarterback, has the right to make the decision to sit during the National Anthem. As he has the right to kneel on an American flag during the National Anthem.

I have changed my mind. I now support that right.

During the past couple of weeks, hundreds, if not thousands, of American veterans have come out in support of that right. The reason for their support is simple.

Each and every veteran gave service to their country in order that every American Citizen has the freedom of speech. That every American has the right to express himself/herself in non-violent support or protest over issues the individual feels important.

I have a couple of comments that I feel are relevant to the issue of and the ongoing firestorm over Colin Kaepernick using his disregard of the National Anthem as a statement.

First, in very simple terms, Kaepernick is gaining notoriety, support, and disdain for his expressed concern over racial inequality and mistreatment in America. And, he is doing so in a non-violent way.

Unfortunately, it seems that more and more often disagreement and protest are simply excuses for uncontrolled violence. While I may not like the way Kaepernick has chosen to protest, his message is that he feels the need to bring the races together in an equitable way. I have never heard any indication that he supports violence in doing so.

My second thought goes to the whole issue of why Kaepernick can dishonor the American flag in the first place. He, like many others, feels America is not tolerant enough of those whose thoughts, ideas, and ideals are not in the mainstream. Therefore, America must be forced to change.

My answer to that is Kim Yong-jin.

Kim Yong-jin?

Up until a couple of months ago, Kim Yong-jin was the Vice Premier of Education for North Korea. Kim Yong-jin was the highest ranking education official in North Korea.

No more.

Kim Yong-jin is dead – executed by the government of North Korea in July.

The offense that led to his execution?

Kim Yong-jin showed disrespect to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un by “slouching in his chair while Kim spoke.”

Disrespecting the American flag is a right held by every American citizen. A right ensured by the lives of millions of veterans.

Slouching in a chair in North Korea is considered disrespect worthy of death.

Maybe, those Americans who hate America should move to North Korea. I’m sure North Korea would embrace them. Unless of course, they decide to “disrespect: Kim Jong-un or the North Korean government.

I know one thing – that wouldn’t happen twice.

– Mike Cooney