The Secrets Behind the Gold

The Olympics are a time where athletes celebrate their talents and represent their countries. The Olympic Winter Games are full of excitement as viewers are anxiously watching to see which country will bring home the gold. My favorite part of the Olympics is seeing underdogs come out on top and seeing them smile from ear to ear. These people on our screens and television sets are like superheroes to us because they have this raw talent that is indescribable and truly amazing. Most of us view these athletes as role models because they are idolized. However, what if these athletes had a hidden past that wasn’t talked about and had skeletons in their closet? Shaun White is the perfect example of a phenomenal athlete, but a really questionable person. 

Shaun White is perfect at landing his halfpipes and the networks don’t shed light on his dark past. Shaun White is entangled in sexual harassment allegations, but the news headlines instead are, “Shaun White is the Best of U.S,” and sure he might be in terms of snowboarding, but as a person, he is not someone who embodies United States ideals like respect and honesty. The claims made against Shaun White were graphic and disturbing and the woman making these remarks was the former drummer for his band. She claimed that he would send her inappropriate pictures and forced her to watch sexually disturbing videos. Moreover, there was a claim in August of 2016 where “White stuck his hands down his pants, approached Zawaideh, and stuck his hands in her face trying to make her smell them.” He also, “used his role to impose a strict regime over Zawaideh, going so far as to demand that she cut her hair, wear sexually revealing clothes and underwear, and refrain from wearing red lipstick.” His actions got worse when he didn’t win a medal in Sochi in 2014. During one of their band practices, he gestured that he was going to backhand Zawaideh and even said, “I’ll f****** slap you.” Shaun White was also not a good boss as he withheld her monthly salary from her. Shaun White denied most of the allegations against him, and the lawsuit was scheduled to go on trial last May, but the two parties settled with an undisclosed amount. During an interview at the 2018 Olympics, White was asked about the allegations and he responded with the comment, “You know, honestly, here to talk about the Olympics, not, you know, gossip.” He later apologized for calling the claims “gossip” as sexual harassment is a big problem in our society today, especially among men in the workplace of higher authority. However, many interviewers aren’t focusing on these allegations and instead focusing on Shaun White's great athletic success. 

The Olympics are a celebration and an extremely positive event that takes place every four years and that should not be tarnished by a couple athletes mistakes and wrongdoings. However, these mistakes should not be overshadowed and concealed as sexual harassment is ugly and disturbing and no case should be of less importance than another. I feel as though with this case in particular people want to “protect” Shaun White’s image because he is so popular in the snowboarding world - but why? Instead, he is the face of certain commercials and brands, which causes many kids to look up to him.