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What Does a Team Look Like?

February 23, 2018
By United States Olympic Committee [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Team USA is doing a bit of boasting about the number of athletes they sent to this year’s Winter Olympics. Two hundred and forty-four athletes to compete in fifteen sports is definitely something worth bragging about—after all, Team USA takes the prize for the greatest number of athletes at the Games. But that’s not all they’re excited about—this year, Team USA consisted of more African-American, Asian-American, and openly gay athletes than ever before. Although the numbers are still relatively small (ten African-American, eleven Asian-American, and two openly gay athletes), the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) is committed to increasing those numbers and building a team that “looks like America.” What does that mean exactly? It means that America is a place where people from all backgrounds and ethnicities live, and Team USA should be a reflection of that. Chloe Kim, gold medal winner of the women’s snowboard halfpipe, is the daughter of immigrant parents, as is figure skater Mirai Nagasu. Maame Biney, the youngest speed skater on Team USA, was born in Ghana but raised in Washington DC.

So what is the USOC doing to achieve this goal of building a Team USA that’s as diverse as its country? They’re introducing all kinds of sports to kids at a younger age across the country—not just in specific areas where, for example, winter sports might be more readily available and accessible. They’re supporting organizations that are helping young athletes realize their dreams, even when the cost of sports might sometimes get in the way. It’s going to be a slow process, but it’s a goal worth achieving. We’d like to see more Chloe Kims, Adam Rippons, and Maame Bineys in the future, wouldn’t you?

If you had the chance to offer the USOC suggestions on how to build a more diverse team, what would you suggest?