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Shani Davis – Reponses

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Incase you missed last week’s Complete Speed Training Newsletter, I started out with a question on Olympic Gold Medalist Shani Davis. Here is the original question:

“If you have been following the Olympics at all I’m sure you heard the story about the (in)famous speed skater Shani Davis. If you haven’t heard, here is a brief recap:

Shani Davis was competing in the 1000 meters and declined to be apart of a relay team, claiming he needed more time to prepare for the 1000. Another US speed skater Chad Hedrick, who was also in the 1000 meter race, wanted to be on the relay to help the US because, as he said he’s ‘a team player’.

In the gym, at the supermarket, even walking down to the beach I have heard people call Shani ‘selfish’, ‘only in it for himself’, and even ‘un-American (whatever that means)’. On the news, some Europeans stated that Shani was ‘exactly what was wrong with America’.

I think this is an interesting topic especially for those who coach youth sports. Many people believe that if you are on a team, no matter how individual the sport may be, that the team comes first period. Think about the team first and yourself (records, personal goals, medals) second.

To add more to this story, Shani Davis became the first African-American man to claim an individual gold medal in Winter Olympic history when he won the 1000m speed skating race. Chad Hedrick did not medal in that race.

I know where I stand on this subject but I wanted to get your feedback. Where do you stand on this topic?

Was Shani just being ‘selfish’??

Was Shani a trailblazer and winning the gold medal is more of a historical significance then trying to help a relay team?

Is speed skating a team sport?

Does it have a negative effect on youth athletes and/or American sports?

If you were training all your life to win a gold medal in your sport would you help your fellow Americans out on a relay team if you know that it could affect your performance for your upcoming race?

Would you have done the same thing that Shani did if you were in his place?”

I would like to thank everyone for their amazing responses. Since I have received so many emails about Shani from all over the world, I was only able to post these few. Sorry if I didn’t get a chance to post your response, but feel free to post any comments down below! (I did not edit any of the emails, I only removed the last name incase someone is shy and so that my lawyer won’t have any extra work)

Hello Patrick,

Individual speed skating is a specialty quite different from relay or even collective speed skating (two skaters against 2, etc.) and it takes a lot of experience and nerves to race in a crazy, exausting melee, pushed around or cut off by “dirty” skaters, risking to be injured at any turn and time.

I do not think that Shani Davis was selfish and he made a good decision, like it or not. I would have done exactly the same thing and I would have asked my coach to call a meeting to clear the air and shut the big mouth of Chad Hedrick. Being part of the US olympic contingent is already a commitment to excellence and towards Team USA, as an individual athlete or as a relay or group or team skater, runner or player. Shani Davis did his part to have USA shine, not Chad Hedrick.

Speed skating as two components : individual speed skating and team skating, each requiring a different approach to competition and team make-up. I would therefore say that the US Olympic Skating Committee did not do its job the right way in this case: The USA is a huge reservoir of athletes with tremendous facilities and terrific coaching staff and it should have a relay team properly trained and prepared to compete anywhere, with the right number of backup racers in case of injuries, illnesses, etc. I really think that countries like Germany, Norway or the USA should not make last minute decisions based on panick like Canadians do sometime when it comes to team make-up. It is OK to change the order, the strategy, etc., but only amongst the dedicated team involved in a competition. Good coaches anticipate problems and make way ahead of time contingency plans to contain disrupting players or athletes – bad apples – and change things if necessary.

Athletes competing in individual sports are necessarily selfish and I do not blame them. They work and train a lot, make sacrifices, and it is their genetics that Nations exploits to promote their culture, trade and other things. Athletes owe a lot to their individual trainers, coaches, sponsors, family and universities, and very little to the national committees which select them, and often treat them like dirt. Further, selfishness in sports (when it is well managed with panache, composure, pugnacity and “played with” by coaches) is a tremendous motivating factor. You have also selfish strikers in soccer or selfish fullbacks in rugby who want want to do everything themselves and who en up being very useful and efficient in high level games.

Shani Davis decision should not have any impact on youth athletes, except amongts the few ones who have a gregarious instinct or behaviour. Mixing the USA collective spirit with olympic performance is wrong, especially in a society where all centers on the individual.

Voila. My congratulations to Shani Davis and my boos to Hedrick.”
– Alain

“Chad Hedrick is clearly the ugly American, not even a good enough sport to congratulate the winner of the 1500, the Italian, never mind nodding to Shani! The media worships big, nasty mouths like Chad Hedrick’s. It has only ever been about making Shani wrong. He went to Italy with the clear intention in his mind that he would win the gold medal in his event, period. For him to even be there is an incredible testament to him and his mother, who is devoted without being hysterical. With sophomoric assholes like Hedrick on the team, where is the opportunity for Davis to “feel the love” of the team?”– Ann

“Patrick,
In my opinion Shani Davis did nothing wrong. As I understand it he did not indicate any desire at any time to participate in the pursuit races. He prepared for many years to compete in certain events when the pursuit event did not even exist. I might feel differently if he had
committed to this race and backed out at the last minute, but as I understand the facts, this was not the case. If we look back, I think the original spirit of the Olympics was to compete as an individual against the very best in the world. I think Chad Hedrick is probably the selfish one here. He publicly denounced his “teammate” because his reluctance to participate interfered with a personal goal that Chad had set for himself.”

– J.W.

“I have been following this subject over the past few days, and it is my understanding that Shani never did commit to being apart of the relay team. It is not as if Shani backed out of a deal, it was a coach that added him to that team after he had already declined. Also, I believed that this was someone’s attempt at drawing interest to the Winter Olympics, but it misfired.”
– Etind

“Hi Patrick, as your probably aware I live on a little island called England, not so long ago there was a politician [who’s name slips my mind]
She decided that the problem with kids now a days, was that they were to competitive, so she went about making her feelings known [without trying to sound sexist] most women and power just don’t go, [look at Maggie Thatcher for one] any way she basically banned as many competitive sports as she could, telling kids, parents and teachers that it was the
taking part that counts [for what exactly] so in light of all that I say now as I always have
“SECOND PLACE IS KNOW WHERE” And if I were in Shani’s skates I would go gold every time, im not saying
it’s not good to be a team player, but you can not rely on other people to always give there best, just because you have got your training just right,or had a great night sleep or even just eaten well, doesn’t mean all your team mates have.”

– Steve

“Hello Patrick,

My opinion is: I think the public should leave Shani Davis alone, and show repect for what he has accomplished. My god, the man has accomplished something unheard of! What’s wrong if he felt he needed more time to prepare for the 1000m.? Whatever his reasons were, so f——g what! It really doesn’t matter. There are always going to be what if’s. It’s possible that the U.S. probably wouldn’t have won gold; and then what? Would he have been criticized for that also? Let him enjoy his special moment in history, he’s earned it. I dont know him personally, but he seems like a good kid, I like how he conducts himself, he’s very well grounded. He has represented the U.S. very well and I don’t think his actions negatively effect american sports or youth athletics. In fact; I think he’s a credit to sport, and to all African Americans.

I think people, or I should say the (world) should stop being so judgemental. Stop hating so much; live and let live!”
– John

“Patrick,

There are more aspects to consider before concluding:
1. Shani has never trained with the American team.
This is an absolute neccessity. They didn’t need him or didn’t want him.

2. It is Chad Hedrick’s problem. He wanted to win 5 gold medals and didn’t succeed and to win the second gold medal he wanted Shani in the team, referring to team spirit, the american dream, etc. He even did not ask him. He needed him to fulfil his olympic dream.

3. The relay is enery consuming and it looks like negatively influencing Shani’s gold medal chances.In the next Olympics the relay will be on the end of the games.

Skating is an individual sport with team aspects. You train together and live more or less together.You train many many years to fulfil your dreams and by taking part in the relay Shasni could easily have ended up as nr 2 on the 1000m.That’s what I call broken dreams.Considering these 3 items I think Shani has taken the right decision.

PS: The Dutch people, who more or less invented ice skating, love Shani Davis and in their opinion Chad Hedrick is no more than a big mouth.

Negative effect on youth?
In my mind it hasn’t an negative influence on youth. Don’t underestimate youth.
They understand the problem. In my group of hurdlers and sprinters (12 up to 22 years) they unanimously favoured Shani. As a trainer I would have supported and defended Shani’s decision.”
– Henk

“Hi Patrick

In my opinion sport is meant to bring togeather “teams” of people from differents cultures and ethnic backgrounds to break social barriers in the community. Team play in sport i think is very important and so i agree with the americans that he has gone over with the team spelling it wrong and including an I.

However; i also understand that personal goals are a big motivator in sport, and are very important to individuals. it could be a once in a lifetime experience for him, and so he wants to be remembered and for america to be proud of him. i also believe that him winning that medal will have contributed some what to americas team chances of high overall positions,
and the country wont be moaning when they have got 1 more medal to show off than a perhaps “better” country.

But like i said to start, sport is a team event and brings people togeather who wouldnt normally come togeather, and sports people should do everything they can to promote this to fans, viewers, amateur sports people, and the world.”
– Andy

“Patrick

In my (fairly long) experience, athletes (by which I mean track and field athletes) are among the friendliest, nicest people I know. If you are to reach your potential as an athlete, however, you do need to do whatever it takes (absent any form of cheating, which is abhorrent) to become as good as you can. Inherent in this is an element of selfishness, since it means,
at the very least, spending less time with friends or family because you are devoting more time to training.

I know little about speed skating, although I enjoy watching it, but there do seem, in this context, to be strong parallels with running. The issue here seems to me to arise principally because of the order of the events. In a summer Olympics, for example, the 4x100m and 4x400m relays are the last events, after the athletes have taken part in their individual events. Whilst the relays are undoubtedly important and legitimate races, my view is that they come second to the individual events. As a spectator, I want to know who the best in the world is, and want to see that athlete at his or her very best. If the relays were run first, and those atheletes took part in them, there must surely be a risk that they leave a little bit of
themselves behind in those relay runs, with the result that the individual performances are less than they might have been. This seems a little unfair to the spectator, and hugely unfair to the competitor, who sacrifices so much time and effort to his or her sport.

So, if I’d been Shani, and the relays took place before the individual event, I would have done the same as him. If they took place afterwards, I would have taken part in them (and would have devoted the necessary time to training as a relay squad).

Does that make me selfish?”
– Nick

“Morning Patrick,

This is a well debated fact, that there are so many team sport events that i feel sport (individual) must not be judged.

If and when and individual feel that he / she is a team player there are so many sporting events to take part and become a team member. When an athlete is focused on his / her individual event, must be given the opportunity to perform to his / her fullest potential. After all, not everyone can and will win Gold.

Every sporting event has a certain amount of individualism attached. My personal opinion, he was 100% correct in his decision to first of all try and do his best for what he trained. What is the need of GOAL SETTING if you are not able to reach that goal, and rather share a might win with 3 other role players.

It is so easy to blame your fellow team mates if the team does not succeed. But when you have a goal in an individual event, you and you alone are to blame if not succeeded. That after all is why one choose an individual event To me a relay event is secondary, yet, important enough to endeavour to have the best options available.

The time spent on training for a relay event is so insignificant in comparison to the individual training schedule. Thus “selfish” is not even a word in my vocabulary when it come to individual events.

My experience with youth athletes is the team practice together with each one to his / her SPECIFIC training schedule and program. I also experience with the 32 athletes in my training camp that they not only perform individually, but when called upon perform also in team sport. They also become better leaders in their age groups and are more focused on the future 99.9% know what they want out of life, who they are and where they going to
Unfortunatley i am not able to say the same of the youth that is focused only on team sporting event.

They do not have the same dedication (as we say in Afrikaans VASBYT) as the youth in the individual events. The team player tend to back off when pressure (performance) is required relying on some one else to pull the wagon through the mud. Purely because he / she has the opportunity to blame the team mate for failure. (that happens throughout his / her life) Team
players also tend to be more aggressive when confronted w
ith failure, and does not have the ability to seek the mistakes within.

Were by the athlete who partake in individual sport, also get aggressive, but know how to handle mistakes and tend to listen and try improve on his / her failures. Their leadership ability grow and develop much faster than that of team players.

Now you know were i stand on Shani`s decision”
– Dirk

“I think that the ratings for the Winter Olympics are tanking and NBC needs a sexy story to try to get more viewers. Sorry if that’s simplifying things.”
– Brian

“Team vs individual. This only conjurs up more questions in my mind. What is the legacy you wish to leave as an athlete? Do you have a chance at setting a world record mark or a gold medal by focusing on one event and eliminating the relay? Team sports will often focus on individual accomplishments, even changing gameplans to accomodate such achievments as an extra “at bat” or another carry of the ball when the game is in hand, or pass to a particular
player to score milestone points. These circumstances bother me far more than wanting to be the best you can be at one event, and knowing your body well enough to figure out what it will take for you to succeed.”

– Mandy

“The individual goals must definitely come first, it is a pity they can’t stage the relays a few days after the individual events are completed.

If athletes want to be part of a team sport then they should choose football or such.

Sports like Athletics, gymnastics etc.. are to test you as an individual against the rest, and in this case, the rest of the world.

I support Shani Davis, there is very little chance of winning a gold if you over compete and don’t have sufficient recovery time. America should be proud of him and see him as the role model he is.”
– Craig

“I think I would have done the same, its seems Shani Davis was given pretty minmal warning that he was needed for the team event, and I imagine when you’ve trained and made it to the olympics, you wouldn’t want to diminish your chances by entering into a race that you wont be 100% prepared for, I mean if you think about, why is he there in the first place? To win a gold I would assume and if racing in the team race was seriously going to jeopardise that, then I think it’s reasonable to say no to that offer. I think maybe chad Hendrik is there more selfish of the two, he seemed to be pretty set on breaking the record for number of gold won, and I think he clearly stated that the USA team would have had a much greater chance at that gold if Shani Davis had been in the team. Either way, Im sure it was a huge decision to make.”
– Nicola

“My grandmother had an old saying “to yourself, be true”, and it is an ethic I teach my children. Athletics, essentially, is an individual sport and the individuals involved work very hard to achieve their personal goals. If a “team” goal is not part of that athlete’s personal
goal, then they should not be required to compete as part of the team. A team is made up of people who want to be involved. I think that those people who think that Shani was selfish, should actually be grateful that, by Shani not being in the team, he allowed someone else an
opportunity that they may not otherwise had had.”

– Kerensa

“No speed skating isn’t especially a team sport, and the athlete may do alot of solitary training and be unfamiliar with comeraderie and team concepts. Nevertheless I think Shani’s actions were still selfish and I personally would have participated in the relay regardess of the consequences. Of course I’m probably egotistical enough to think it wouldn’t have affected my individual efforts. Plus, he is also a member of the US Team. I don’t think he was a trailblazer. Who cares what color the athlete is? Even mentioning that is a form of racism. However I don’t think it has enough impact to negatively affect youth or American sports.”
– Ed

“Shani made the right decision. If he didn’t have a realistic chance to place it would be a different story. The fact is that he wanted to concentrate on winning the gold, and that’s exactly what he did. Fuck everyone else.”
– Kevin

“If Shani was excepted in the sport and treated as a team mate early on, he may have reacted differently. i don’t know the whole story but if you ask me “what goes round comes round”.”
– Frank

“Onto your subject!!! SHANI did what he had to do to win his event. PERIOD. CONGRATS to Shani and his achievement. Black, White, Pink or Green……. he did what he had to!!!

HATS OFF…………”
– Demetra

“Not sure if this issue has an impact on youth sports but it certainly seems to be a reflection of sports/society in 2006. The concept of team/us in some sports is being sacrificed for the individual. From the outside looking in at the Davis issue he seems to be more concerned for himself and he wasn’t overall concerned with his Olympic team. He practiced in Canada, He missed the opening ceramonies and he certainly was more concerned with his individual success vs the team. He worked hard to earn his medals and he should be proud of himself for wht he was able to accomplish.

As a youth coach of K to 8th graders in CYO I always emphasize team. I have my fastest runners particpate in relays to allow my slower runners a chance to medal and at the same time give my speedsters a chance to perform in dashes/runs to allow them to perform as individuals. We base our success as a team and that team is made up a number of individuals of varying degrees of abilities. If someone asks me what I would have done if I was Davis it would have been team first. But I am not Davis and he made decisions that he will have to live with.”
– Susan

“Has a former world class sprinter know being 60 years old.All I can say is nonsense .You are there has an individual it is your race to enter or drop out off .These are individual sports apart from the relays .Most individuals never race well in a team event they never practice together never race together till the day of the event.Its about time we understood that these people have a path to take which is winning there individual race and that has to come first that is where their training lies.Maybe the USA team was a little short on talent this time around there should have been some back up for just this sort of situation .we never went into any event without a back up that could get the job done.”– Chris

“If you have been following the Olympics at all I’m sure you heard the story about the (in)famous speed skater Shani Davis. If you haven’t heard, here is a brief recap:
Shani Davis was competing in the 1000 meters and declined to be apart of a relay team, claiming he needed more time to prepare for the 1000. Another US speed skater Chad Hedrick, who was also in the 1000 meter race, wanted to be on the relay to help the US because, as he said he’s ‘a team player’.

In the gym, at the supermarket, even walking down to the beach I have heard people call Shani ‘selfish’, ‘only in it for himself’, and even ‘un-American (whatever that means)’. On the news, some Europeans stated that Shani was ‘exactly what was wrong with America’.

I think this is an interesting topic especially for those who coach youth sports. Many people believe that if you are on a team, no matter how individual the sport may be, that the team comes first period. Think about the team first and yourself (records, personal goals, medals) second.

To add more to this story, Shani Davis became the first African-American man to claim an individual gold medal in Winter Olympic history when he won the 1000m speed skating race. Chad Hedrick did not medal in tha
t race.

I know where I stand on this subject but I wanted to get your feedback. Where do you stand on this topic?

Was Shani just being ‘selfish’?? Not sure, don’t know the guy or his “story”

Was Shani a trailblazer and winning the gold medal is more of a historical significance then trying to help a relay team? Not sure, seems he may have been thinking about “his” goal only?

Is speed skating a team sport? Obviously there are some events where “team” is important

Does it have a negative effect on youth athletes and/or American sports? There are “way” too many negative effects on youth athlete’s in America today, unfortunately most of it starts or ends with Coaches

If you were training all your life to win a gold medal in your sport would you help your fellow Americans out on a relay team if you know that it could affect your performance for your upcoming race? Absolutely, that’s what you call “unselfish”

Would you have done the same thing that Shani did if you were in his place? Again not sure of all the details, but I’d say NO WAY, Country comes before self!! Team comes before self!!”
– Joel

“Patrick, I personally think that this matter should have been resolved by the coaches and athletes well before the olympics even started. You should not wait just before gametime and decide who is going to play.”
– Bobby

“Reflecting on the issue of the olympics I believe you definently have to question the character of shani davis. He seemed more focused on acheiving his own personal goal than helping out his fellow teammates.Although becoming the first African American to compete and win in speed skating, people will always remember his so called selfious ambition to make a name for himself in history.Then again i don’t remember speed skating being a team sport so it seemed as if he made the right decision for himself.”
– Myron

“Patrick,

In regards to the Shani Davis situation, here are my thoughts…

Shani Davis is an athlete preparing years for a single series of events to race in, one of them being his shining point, the 1000m race. While he may be on ‘Team USA’ (Which every Winter Olympic athlete is, by the way, they are all part of a collective team representing the country), he didn’t practice or prepare for such a relay event. I have seen relay teams work on finding the right mix of ‘legs’ in the relay race throughout a track season, and their intent is to find the right mix for success for the track team.

As far as I know from speedskating, the relay is a new event this year, and there is no collective points system for a winning overall team in speedskating, like there is in track & field.

So, with all of this bearing weight in the situation, I am for Shani Davis sitting out of the relays. He did not prepare to win a relay, he prepared for individual competition. His overall finishes in races did not contribute to a collective points system to determine an entire winning nation in speedskating. Thus, there is no ‘team’ at all for speedskating. I find it funny at this high international level of competition that the country’s coach just collects a random bunch of guys who have never prepared as a team, to represent the team for this relay race.

To me, that’s not good coaching. Its like going to a track meet, without a single practice with a collection of 4 sprinters for a 4x100m relay event. Then, all of a sudden, the coach picks 2, 100m and 2, 200m sprinters and says “you guys are in the 4×100, get ready.” Do you really expect that team of conglomerates, who have had no practice at all in the event, to all of a sudden get it together in a miracle race and come up with a top finish? I don’t see what the big issue is then, since the same scenario I just gave for track is the same that is done for the new speedskating relay race. To me, its a BS competition that proves nothing, because you
have no teamwork at all in the development of such a team to win.”

– Rick

“The US Olympic Team is still spelled TEAM”
– Louis

“Live with intention. Practice wellness. Appreciate what you have, especially your friends.

Walk to the edge. Listen hard. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Continue to learn. Do what you love.”
– Lou

“I think the entire Olympics are a team sport. You are supposed to be there representing your country first and individually second. Who paid Shani’s way to Italy? I am sure it was thru the United States Olympic Committee, not the Shani Gold Medal Committee. I think he is extremely selfish, and if I had been captain of the US Speed Skating team, after he failed to show his team integrity, would have withdrawn him from all his races. This selfish individuality is what is corrupting sports in the US. Don’t misunderstand me, individuality is great, but not at the cost of the team. There has to be a responsibility or obligation to something greater than personal ego. I think we can make a list of outstanding athletes who’s team came first.”
– Kurt

“Patrick,
There are too many questions to be answered before I could make a judgment about what Shani did or didn’t do.
1. Is speed skating really a team sport (I am not familiar enough with the insides of the sport)?
2. What role does the team captain (Chad) play in this sport?
3. What role is expected of “the team?” Are they obligated to inform the captain or coach ahead of time of their intent? Are the racers names set for the relay before they set off for the Olympics?
4. Was Chad Hendrick upset about his own medal count or the USA medal count? Is he thinking of seeing his picture on the front of Wheaties?
5. Was it truly Shani’s desire to be a trailblazer for minorities? If so, is that a higher calling than padding the USA medal count?

The drive for fame and fortune can do some strange things. But no man knows the heart, even our own can be deceptive. Only God knows the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
– JG

“Hey Pat,

If I’m mistaken about this let me know, but, I heard on the news that Chad Hendrick made his comment because one of his really good friends, who happens to be a speed skater on the team also, was going for 5 gold medals. They knew that if Shani Davis skated in the 1000 team event, the friend would accomplish this task. Because Shani did not skate, he was “not a team player”.

How sad is that.

Shani Davis accomplished a feat in which African-Americans to be extremely proud.

If he had sacrificed his individual gold for the team, does anyone out there really believe that the African-American skater who UNSELFISHLY helped the Caucasian skater win 5 golds would have gotten even a mention in the news. Would the Caucasian skater have made mention of this UNSELFISH act in his apparences on the TODAY show, REGIS & KELLY and the rest of his post olympic engagements?

I THINK NOT!!!

African-Americans have gone through this time and time again. We were good enough to fight for this country as a TEAM, meanwhile, we could not sit down in the same reatrurants, drink at the same water coolers as the rest of the TEAM!!

Shani’s accomplishment was for the greater good of this country! He is a Hero!”
– Paul

“Since I am not an elite athlete, I feel like my opinion only goes so far, but here it is…

While I do believe in team spirit and supporting your country, I believe that you need to take care of yourself first and foremost. I am quite sure that Shani’s decision to drop out of the team event wasn’t easy for him to make, but ultimately he knew what his priorities were and choose to honor that. My only wish is that he would have informed his team mates earlier. (of course with all
this fall out- perhaps that’s why he didn’t let anyone know until the last minute) It is unfortunate that this is happening, but with having your whole life (which seems to be what it takes to be an Olympic athlete) be about winning a gold medal in one particular event, I
have a really hard time criticizing Shani for doing what he felt he had to do.”
– Angela

“I just wanted to chime in on the Shani Davis story.

Personally, I believe Shani did the right thing “for him.” He has always dreamed of winning a gold medal and he achieved that goal. Even if it meant not competing in the team relay.

After hearing many stories about this incident, I believe I am beginning to see things a little more clearly. From my understanding Shani was not on the relay to begin with, and it wasn’t until Chad Hedrick realized he had an opportunity to get five (5) golds that they asked Shani to be a part of the relay team.

I personally believe Chad is angry with Shani not because of the “teams” pursuit of gold, but because of “Chads” pursuit of gold.

Shani Davis is an American who achieved his goal of winning a Gold medal and a silver I might add, for himself and his country the United States of America. Now if that makes him selfish so be it. But he achieved what he set out to do. Chad on the other hand??? and it’s not Shani’s fault he did not achieve his goal.”
– Scoob

“Patrick: Well being Canadian , I feel that I should keep my opinons about Americians to myself.
BUT, If he is sponsored by the TEAM then he should be helping the TEAM. Being in such great shape should HAVE lots left over for his own gold attempt in the 1000.”

– Dan

“Mr. Davis did the right thing. Win the Gold then talk later.”
– Rich

“Patrick,

I understand Shani Davis pulled out of the team relay competition just a few days before. He has his right to pull out, but I’m not buying it. If your going to commit yourself to an event than just do it. I think he sold out his teammates and america in that respect.

I also feel guys like Roger clemens and Brett Favre should step up and say Either I’m retiring or I’m playing, instead of continuing to hold off on their decisions….”
– Jay

“Dear patrickbeith.
Greetings to you again. About the olympics l see it that was very nics. About Shani Davis he try his best to win the olympics winter. That is nics, But l ask what make him go out from teams.”

– Bembe



“I can understand how both Shani Davis and Chad Hedrick feel about this situation. What I don’t understand is how the US Speed skating coaches and officials let this situation fester until the last minute. Shouldn’t they already have a roster set for the pursuit relay team? This should never be an issue that is solved at the last minute. They have had months to resolve this. Even if they don’t know what skater is going to be in the position for a medal, they should have alternate plans for the any of the scenarios.

I blame the shortsightedness of the coaches and officials. Because of the coach’s and official’s lack of planning these fine athletes are taking the brunt of the negative criticism when they should be honored and held in high esteem for their hard work and dedication.”
– George

“This is a very difficult question. My answer is it depends. It depends on if Shani knew before the Olympics that he was going to skate in relay. If so, then Shani is wrong. If he didn’t know, or wasn’t asked to participate until he arrived at the Olympics, then what Shan did is OK with me. Because to me going for the gold is what the Olympics is all about.”
– Paul

“I would have elected not to participate in the relay. You make the team on individual merit. It is a team in name only. A team is a number of persons associated together in work or activity. Speed skating is an individual sport. The relay is secondary.

To be the first black American to win the gold was very important.”
– Craig

“Hi Patrick,
Sure helping out the speed skating team is important…but by winning the gold medal he was helping out the US team. The US team is an even bigger team than the relay team. I do not think Shani Davis was being selfish in choosing not to compete in the relay. You cant have too much on your plate at one time and if he tried to do both he might have hurt himself and then where would we be, we wouldn’t have a person for the relay or for the 1000 meter race. Shani Davis did what he felt was best for him. As for what I would have done I cannot say because I am not in that position.”

– Danielle

“No i don,t think he’s selfish, he trained hard for the events that he skated. fathermore if a team mate and not the coach critisize, it holds no weight. skate you game not your team mates. for example. if carl lewis was ask to run a leg on the mile relay, i think he would decline, because he had not trained to run the race.”
– David

“I do not think that Shani Davis committed a sin against his team for what he did. The way he did it may have been the real issue. Had he discussed this with Chad or his coach more prior more completely, maybe much of the problem would have been prevented as far as the bad feelings. He has every right to control his involvement in this competition. To each his own. This is not a basketball game where the only score that matters is the team score. The individual performance comes first, then the team in this situation in my opinion. That’s why they give individual medals.” – Mark

“Yes, I have been following the Speed Skating Drama as the media like to refer to it. It certainly give the media something to talk about because so few of them have any real knowledge on sports and the training required they are for the most part not capable of putting together any meaningful commentary.

Certainly there are two side to the story. There was no prior planning for the Team Pursuit and it is possible that Shani Davis had put together a training plan which the additional competition would have significantly disrupted. Having said that I think we would have all preferred for him to have competed but it was his chose. By the way where were the coaches in all of this and what was their role in putting the Team Pursuit team together.

Remember, medal count is not a part of the Olympics it is done by the media to make a story.”
– Troy

“being a new zealander living in ireland and lived in australia i have seen a bit and being a rugby player have thrived in the team environment, your results will definitely increase as your teams results do, there is a time when some athletes are being held back by the team through individualism and creativity being held in check by the disciplined and structured
environment. there does come a time when the team should come after yourself, one such occassion when this happens and there is no complaint from team is when you have an injury. i woukld support shani and hope the rest of the team would as he won gold, god help him if he had of lost though and the relay team gold, lucky him. most of the athletes saying he was
selfish have and maybe neve will be in the position to a ribbon let alone an olympic gold medal, well done shani”

– Robert

“I feel that he after training 17 years and coming from relatively poor situation and sacrificing so much And being black he should not have been criticized for going for himself. If he sacrificed his chance at a gold medal and lost the 1000, people would have dismissed him for folding under pressure and kicked him to the curb. No one would have come to his rescue if he lost t
he 1000. He did the right thing by not skating on the relay — they might have lost anyway. The relay team never got past the quarter finals.?? Then he would have nothing to show for 17 years of sacrifice. No one remembers a loser. Of course, he expected the public to endorse his decision. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. Bill Cosby said “The quickest way to failure is to try to please everyone.” Dammit –he won and made history. He irritated a few spoil sports but so what?”

– Ed

“I think Shani is totally right on. I live in a little town in Oregon, no black people, but I think Shani as an athlete was exactly right when he said, “Would Hedrick have done the relay if his 5k race was the next day?” I don’t think so. We have, what, 2 more also on that relay? I think Shani straight forward attitude is a great example to kids. Only the rednecks will have trouble with the patriotic bullshit.”– Tom

“Was Shani just being ‘selfish’??

Was Shani a trailblazer and winning the gold medal is more of a historical significance then trying to help a relay team?

Is speed skating a team sport?

Does it have a negative effect on youth athletes and/or American sports?

If you were training all your life to win a gold medal in your sport would you help your fellow Americans out on a relay team if you know that it could affect your performance for your upcoming race?

Would you have done the same thing that Shani did if you were in his place?

My understanding is that Davis was asked at the last minute. This is key to my thoughts. Probably the best thing would have been if he could have joined his teammates on the relay AND won his gold in the 1000. That would have been more realistic if the invitation had been
extended prior to the Games. But it really seems that Hedrick used the late invite and Davis’ decision not to compete as an opportunity to grandstand against Davis. It makes me wonder if there were other issues below the surface.

I would not use the word selfish to describe Davis. He is most definitely a trailblazer but I would never assume that that’s why he opted out of the relay. I think he just wanted to win his primary event. Even if he hadn’t been a “trailblazer.”

It sounds as though he is quite solitary, but I don’t think that is a statement on his personality or worth. Some people just aren’t loudmouths.

If you’re mostly a time-trialer as you are in the 1000, I think you’re an individual athlete first and part of a team second. Davis brought glory to his team and the U.S. by perfecting his individual performance.

I am not really sure what I would have done in Davis’ place.

One thing Davis had that Hedrick did not was sportsmanship after the fact. In the footage I viewed, Davis was gracious even in the face of insults. Hedrick, IMO, was a little bitch. HIs comments were not what I would extend, especially to the media, about my teammate. They make me question his teamsmanship. Yet there are people who say the opposite.”
– Karen

“I think it is very important for professionals to clearly know what they are there to represent; their goals and the goals of the sponsors and team need to be clearly defined from the get go. Another words communication!!!! If you compare to the team spirit of the tour de France; the team members are there strictly for Lance Armstrong; that is their sole purpose and what they were being paid for. I don’t know how it actually works with the Olympics but surely everyone knows up front who is doing what and for whom????”
– Kathy

“If I were Shani I most probably would have done the same thing speed skating is an individual event such as summer games sprints, the relay is the best of the individual sprinters put together to give those that wish the opportunity to compete again as most races do not last for very long. As to Shani being un-american i would say that he is very american.”
– Maria

“just so you know i am not racially bias, i am an irish-american not african-american. that being said I think Shani Davis absolutely did the right thing. At the point in the olympics when shani declined to race in the relay chad already had his first olympic gold medal , shani had not yet competed in the 1000 meters and since speed skating is primarily an individual sport first and a team sport second he should not have risked his chance for himself, and the U.S.A. to get an olympic gold medal. in my opinion Chad was the one being more selfish because he would deprive Shani a chance to pursue a gold medal so he could have a shot at equaling Eric Heidens olympic record of 5 golds in a single olympic winter game. why this viewpoint is not discussed in the media is beyond me unless I am the only one who feels that way, curious to know how many others share my opinion.”
– Randy

“I had never heard of Shani Davis until the Olympics. I support what he did. As a competitive athlete I have done my best when I have done things for myself and I have often sold out to try to please others or follow the crowd – ususally with lousy results. Its his life; where were the people criticizing him when he was at the Olympics? I am Canadian – and someone is always criticizing our athletes when they don’t come through in the clutch – as Shani did.”
-Tyler

“Shani Davis should be awfully proud of what he achieved and every supporter should be too. He worked extremely hard for his chance to win a gold medal and become an Olympic champion.He had not worked for hours and hours to become a medalist in the relay but the hours where spent on his individual pursuit.Although now an important event, i always saw the relay event as a final bit of fun. Yeh a team event i agree but each individual member trained for their own gain and not for the relay.Shani achieved his ultimate goal and well done.What was Michael Johnson’s goal ? To be the greatest ever 200m/400m sprinter or to be a relay team member. Need i ask?”
-RW

“I’m a runner, have been for 25 years.
Relay medals are icing on the cake, they don’t have the emotional significance of an individual medal, even the GB sprint team in Athens who ran a fantastic team race would all trade in their gold for an individual bronze. If the speed skating relay was before the individual race then they should do a bit of re-scheduling.”

– John

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