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Chad Hedrick – Olympian: Shani Davis – Not

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Correction: Shani Davis was never one of the five intended skaters in the relay race, so technically he never pulled out of the event. We apologize for the misstatement. –Sports Editor

The truth about the publicly emotional spat between US speedskaters Shani Davis and team captain Chad Hedrick is now clear to everyone except (apparently) Shani Davis, who hasn’t seemed to catch on yet.

This truth involves the Olympic ideals, one of which is (or ought to be) that no matter how great or famous you are there are things that are more important than yourself.

Hedrick finally got it. Davis didn’t.

Davis accepted his role as a member of the US speedskating pursuit team when he joined the US Olympic delegation. After arriving at Torino, without speaking to or consulting with the team captain (Hedrick) he withdrew from the relay event.

I assume that until that moment he had given every indication that he was going to be a part of that team. I assume that he had trained with them and had been included as part of the strategic planning that goes into such competition. His departure betrayed his commitment to his fellow US skaters and destroyed the hopes that some of them may have had to fulfill their dreams of winning an Olympic medal.

His strategy of putting himself first may or may not have been a factor in his winning his personal goal of a Gold Medal in the 1000 meter race but it clearly soured his relationship with the other team members . . . especially Hedrick.

Hedrick was put in a position where he was not only expected to show his own personal feelings but also to represent the feelings of the entire team. He chose, therefore, not to congratulate Davis with a handshake after his 1000 meter victory.

For Davis it was all about himself. His feelings were hurt. The joy of his victory was stolen from him. His demeanor after the race was seething with anger and resentment. He was, one could hope, learning that there are more important things in life than winning gold — things such as friendship, camaraderie, trust, and honor.

At the press conference following the 1500 meter race (where he silvered and Hedrick bronzed) Davis finished his statement by publicly stating how hurt he had been when Hedrick had refused to shake his hand after his victory in the 1000 meter.

Here, once again, Davis betrayed his immaturity. This was not a matter to bring up to the international press. It was a matter to be dealt with personally and quietly as one adult with another.

Davis then stood up and walked out of the room leaving Hedrick alone in shock, forced to decide whether to respond publicly to Davis or not. Hedrick, to his credit, did not attack Davis personally, but simply stated that he had felt a sense of betrayal and disappointment when Davis had quit the pursuit team.

At the medal ceremony for the 1500 race, Hedrick, as the 3rd place finisher, was introduced first. When Davis was introduced, after his applause had begun to end and just before the 1st place Italian skater was introduced, Hedrick walked across the dais, reached over and offered his hand to Davis. Davis turned in surprise, leaned away for just an instant and then took the offered hand and accepted Hedrick’s congratulations.

Yet, even after Hedrick’s gesture, Davis still didn’t seem to “get it,” being quoted as saying, “I did my best, but fell a little short,” Davis said of his silver. “To me, that’s more important than the handshake.”

Davis clearly entered the Olympics for his own glory. Hedrick was equally motivated to compete for his own glory but was also mature enough to realize that he had the responsibility of also being both a representative of his country and a member of a team of skaters whose own personal hopes and dreams were no less important than his own.

In the best interests of the Olympic games and the image of the United States, and with the realization that there would be no reconciliation or resolution of the conflict unless he initiated it, Hedrick humbled himself, swallowed his own pride and publicly extended an offer of peace to Davis.

Jesus said that, “whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”

Davis may have won a gold medal but Hedrick is an Olympian.

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About Bird of Paradise

  • Chris

    You are “completely” wrong…….

    Chad Hedrick will be remembered as the guy that attacked the “FIRST” black athlete to win an individual gold medal in the winter olympics……

    Future generations will view Hedrick as the “RACIST” white guy that did not want a black man to beat him…..

  • http://www.tbirdofparadise.blogspot.com Bird of Paradise

    Wow, Chris. That’s a new spin on what happened at Torino. Do you have any evidence to support what you have said? Or are you just a Bryant Gumbel fan?

  • toni

    shani davis did not train with the national team. he was not asked to participate in the relay until two days before. he did not owe them anything because they did nothing for him. hedrick is upset because he missed out on an oppurtunity to tie or beat an olympic record of holding five gold medals. his reason for being angry is selfish and not the attitude of an olympian. skating is not a team sport. it is not basketball. you are on your own. just because your medal falls under the US count does not change this.

  • Chris

    Black athletes that are the 1st to win in a white dominated sport are always attacked by jealouus “white” athletes……

    Venus & Serena were attacked by “white” commentators (chris everett)….martina hingis and other tennis players also attacked them…

    Look back into history, the 1st black baseball players were attacked……….and so was Jesse Owens…..

    Chad hendrick is just another jealous white athlete, attacking a pioneer.

  • Lisa W

    I heard a clip of SI’s Rick Reilly on ESPN Radio where he said that an official with US Speedskating told him that Shani had never intended to skate the team pursuit, that he (the official) included his name on the list of possibles because he was hoping he might change his mind, and that he now feels like this was all his fault.

    Shani has been saying all along that he was never on the pursuit team and that they invited him to replace one of the other skaters about a week before the event and he turned them down. You can’t quit a team you were never on. I don’t think this makes him Shani Bin Laden. Nor do I think Chad is a racist. But I do think that if you say that you’re a team leader you do not continually rip another member in the press because you don’t agree with their decision nor do you say how much you believe in the Olympic ideal and than make a big show of not shaking your opponent hand and making petty comments.

    And lets not forget the pursuit race was not going to interfere with Chad’s main race, the 5000 meter, which was run before the pursuit. I wonder if he would have put winning that race in jeopardy? Since he side stepped that question when one of the reporters asked, and in fact never answered it, I doubt it. It is easy to be noble when you already have what you want in your pocket.

  • http://texsportpub.blogspot.com Robert Kelly

    I completely agree. Someone out there that sees the same point of view that I have been expressing in my writings all along.

    Check out the blog We welcome all comments and points of view, no matter if they agree with us or how completely ridiculous they are.

  • http://mensnewsdaily.com/blog/stix/ Nicholas Stix

    Robert Kelly: “I completely agree.”

    With whom about what? Inquiring minds want to know.

  • http://www.tbirdofparadise.blogspot.com Bird of Paradise

    I appreciate the details that you are all sharing with me. I can only form opinions from the information I had available to me at the time I wrote this. If what you tell me is true (the the pursuit team assignment had not been a formal expectation of Davis) than I would have likely come to a different conclusion. Even so, it was Hedrick who stepped across the dias to shake Davis’ hand and this should be viewed as a credit to him.

    For Chris, I remember watching Arthur Ashe play tennis when he was on the USC tennis team (I saw him play at Stanford). He and Evonne Gooligong (who was aborigine) seemed to have been accepted and respected during the height of their careers. Before he died at a young age, Ashe coached the US men’s Davis Cup team for many years and now has the US Open Center Court Stadium (when Serena and Venus have excelled) named after him.

    Sometimes a black athlete can be a complete jerk. To express an opinion on this does not make the critic a racist.

    I still stand by my belief that Davis is the younger, less experienced and less mature athlete when compared to Hedrick. This does not mean that Hedrick is without fault or blameless. Note that I began my post with the caveat that Hedrick FINALLY ‘got it.’ I expect that, upon reflection, Davis will also ‘get it’ if, in fact, he hasn’t “gotten it’ already!

  • Stevie

    Some of your assumptions are false. Davis was very straight about his intention not to compete in the team pursuit. In fact, he was forced by US Speedskating to declare this in writing prior to going to the Olympics. So I can certainly understand why Davis is a little miffed since this was a non-issue. I’m not convinced that this was a deliberate attempt by some to undermine Shani’s chances in the 1000m by stirring up the media but the truth was out there for those who cared enough to find out.

    These two individuals come from very different backgrounds in terms of their athletic careers. Davis has been in the speedskating world all his life and this has shaped him for better or for worse. Hedrick is a newcomer and brings certain values from inline skating, values which I find very admirable. However the speedskating environment in the USA has been poisoned for years and I suspect that Hedrick might not fully appreciate this. Nor should he care actually. The fact that US Speedskating is only now admitting their ‘error’ is telling.

    Also:

    Whoever said that Hedrick was team captain? Hedrick? the media? For these events, you need leadership from the coaches, since it is the one ‘team’ event in an otherwise individual sport. Why isn’t anyone asking USS why the right conditions were not in place for the US team to succeed in the team pursuit? Maybe its because they have burnt their bridges with Davis and many other skaters over the years which makes the task virtually impossible.

  • http://blog.myspace.com/blog/rss.cfm?friendID=19453654 J. P. Spencer

    It’s worth noting that if Hedrick should be mad at ANYONE for not winning 5 gold medals in Turin, it should be himself. He became so consumed by the team relay loss that he came in 6th in the 1,000 meters.

    A true competitor knows how to keep his concentration better than Hedrick displayed.

    I think all of this was concocted to distract from the fact that based on expectations, Hedrick’s overall olympic performance was a bust.

    With all that, I wish him luck in the 10,000 meters.

  • Sarah

    Vonetta Flower is the first African American gold medalist in 2002.

  • ZoFromOttawa

    To Bird of Paradise:
    I see no reason why you would hold the view that the US team pursuit comprised a “team”. Let us for a moment consider a commonly held characteristic of a “team”.
    Team : People who work together for a common goal -where each person puts aside their own interest for the sake of the team in which they belong to
    Now aside from containing the word “team”, the Team Pursuit has nothing to do with a team. WHY?
    They don’t train together and they really dont have they don’t have a shared common goal. Each person trains for one (sometimes more) SPECIFIC event(s) (which doesn’t include the pursuit), hence at most they have only a subordinate interest in winning the team pursuit.
    Did you even consider the fact that Davis should be congradulated for being patriotic enough to play for a country that HE DOES NOT EVEN TRAIN IN. Furthermore he has had disagreements with the US skating association and has been banned from using their facilities. Now I dont know if you if you’re familiar with olympians…but often when there is this level of disagreement, a person will simply play for another country (in this case Davis should play for Canada since he trains on our ice in Calgary).
    Given all this… it seems clear to me and should be clear to you that he doesn’t have any patriotic or moral obligation to the team pursuit.
    HEY, wasn’t his decision not to compete in the team relay a good decision for AMERICA since he won the gold for AMERICA when he won the 1000m?

    and ask yourself this question: AS AN OLYMPIAN, DOES IT MAKE SENSE TO TRAIN YOUR WHOLE LIFE FOR YOUR SPECIALTY (1000m in the case of DAVIS) ONLY TO TIRE YOUSELF THE DAY BEFORE THE MOST IMPORTANT RACE OF YOUR LIFE FOR A “TEAM” YOU’VE NEVER TRAINED. WHY SHOULD ANYONE GIVE UP THEIR DREAM FOR SOMEONE ELSES???

  • tommyd

    Just another black athlete expanding his ego and his mouth while putting down whitey in the process. Nothing new. No one in the media dares take whitey’s side. Blacks are now a step or two away from God-like status, holy cows where blasphemy against them will not be tolerated.

    Shani sucks. Hedrick rules.

  • http://www.djradiohead.com DJRadiohead

    Tommyd, that’s just ignorance speaking there. Runaway ego and selfishness is not a racial trait. There is plenty of it.

    Comparing African-Americans to cows is also not the best bit of analysis, either.

  • http://www.crowscry.blogspot.com John Spivey

    Why should anyone voice an opinion like this article does, when all the facts are not in? It betrays the weakness in blogging where anyone can fire shoot-from-the-hip opinions that don’t stand up to scrutiny. What’s the point anyway? Suspending judgement is a good thing. Just watch the race. Life goes on.

  • Sarah

    In spite of Hedrick’s 3 medals, his public behavior during this Olympic makes him to be one of those ugly Americans. He did not congratulate the Italian gold medalist, instead he sulked and stormed. Today, he won a silver medal, he started to complain about not having enough legs, then bragged to everyone that he had the biggest heart in comparison to the two Dutch skaters, gold and bronze medalists.

    Thank heaven, not all American athletes are boorish like this guy. Trouble is, there are those people who might believe that Hedrick’s boorish, poor, poor sportsmanship is part of American culture.

  • http://www.thebmrant.com Matt

    they are both assholes, and neither emocdy the notion of “Olympian”. Hedrick is a self-absorbed baby who cared only about his own pursuit of Heiden’s record. Davis acted like a complete moron when the shit hit the fan, and he looks no better off than Hedrick. Its a shame that the first black athlete to win a gold medal also happens to be a douchebag.

  • queenie

    Chad Hedrick embodies everything selfish and self-centered about sports. Shani Davis had every right to refuse to skate in the pursuit as it was the day before his BIG race. Chad wanted 5 gold medals and Shani got in the way of that so he pouted like a petulant child who didn’t get his way. Well, Shani got his gold, where are your other 3 Chad???? Guess you, like Bode Miller, believed your own hype but couldn’t live up to it.
    Shani was the true Olympian cheering on his teammates. Chad couldn’t even muster up enough class the shake Shani’s hand after Shani had won the gold.
    Chad, time to grow up!!

  • imat

    I don’t know why Davis is considered selfish because he did not want to help Hendrick get “5” gold medals in pursuit of his 1. As for him being selfish I would sugget to them what the people who worked with him the majoritiy of his skating life say do and that is to “take a trip down to the Robert Crown Center in Evanston [IL] the next time Shani is in town. He would see a young man who is enthusiastic and giving of his time and talents — in short, anything but selfish.” Judge this man on all of his actions, not just the one.

    And if the Detroit Pistons were considered immature and lacking of class when they did not shake the Chicago Bulls hands after the Bulls won, Hendrick deserves the same labels.

  • http://gratefuldread.net Natalie Davis

    You assume wrong. Davis sent a letter of intent three weeks before the Games began indicating that he would not take part in the Team Pursuit.

    Hedrick showed off incredibly BAD sportspersonship in his behavior throughout the Games. He finally shook Davis’ hand? Good for him. Davis congratulated other athletes, including those from other countries and including Hedrick, throughout. It was Hedrick who made a point of giving kudos to Joey Cheek and withholding it from the victorious Davis.

    What was Davis’ crime? He didn’t shuck and grin for the NBC reporter? Boo-frickin’-hoo; he has no duty to grin for press. He became upset for being condemned for not racing in a competition in which he never intended to race? Wouldn’t you?

    No one’s perfect, but in my eyes, Hedrick was the bad guy here (and I hope that indeed he has changed his ways).

    If melanin is playing a part here, I am not aware of it, but it saddens me to see Mr. D’s comments.

  • cppuff91

    hey chad hedrick is cool! dont diss him! he didnt do anything wrong! if you watched the olympics then you would no why they were fighting!

  • Sheldon Orviss

    I’m with Davis. A man should know his limitations and possess the right to stand his ground. By the way, he did win Olympic gold through hard work while other “Olympians” chose to simply enjoy the party.

  • jnik

    Whenever there is the first black ANYTHING, from Jack Johnson to Randal Pinkett, that person is held to a different standard than the whites who used to own that title. Why does no one call Cheek “selfish” for ALSO not competing in the “team persuit” race? He also was training for HIS individual event, but I guess SOME KINDS of people are expected to put the team first, and “others” aren’t.
    And Sasha Cohen wasn’t asked to take part in pair skating or ice dancing while she practiced for her individual events.
    Also, those five Gold Medals Hedrick was “robbed” of include the 1,000 and 1,500 meter races Davis beat him in. Was Shani supposed to lie down and let the white boy get “his” medals?

  • Maddy

    Shani Davis is a American with heart and not be
    treated like he didn’t even have the courage to
    do it or something

  • Lars

    It is unfortunate that Shanni and Chad said things that the media could latch onto and blow out of proportion.

    In some ways Shanni was correct that participating in the team pursuit would impact his chance at the gold in the 1500. Look at Chads performance in the 1500. But when Shanni won the 1500 and broke the world record at the Olympic oval in SLC he was the last heat on the day of four intense days of competiton. Anni Friesinger had to bow out of the 5000 and was favored to win the 1500 but was suffering from ashma, aggravated by the Team Pursuit that Germany won. (Germany ended up with more medals) I’m certain the USA would have won the Team Pursuit with Shanni. Shanni’s comment that a team pursuit medal means nothing didn’t see the medals presentation to the Italians or the German women. Anni Friesinger and Claudia Pechstien put aside their differnces and got it done.

  • LT

    The author of this “article” needs to get his or her facts in order before posting.
    Check out http://www.shanidavis.org and take a look at the latest posting by daviscil.

  • bmorebamma

    hey there ai enough blame to go around here, this WAS handled BADLY by BOTH partys and the USS= the speedsking union. i say the ONE person who hadled HIMSELF withe class wag joey cheeks , never got involved in the DRAMA (this comming from a afrcian amercian).

  • http://nona-gaye.net Jennifer

    What BULLSHIT. Why was Shani was supposed to sacrifice himself for the greater glory of Chad friggin Hedrick and his quest for (fool’s) gold? Team player deez nuts – Shani did the right thing. If Shani has screw up the team pursuit, he’d never hear the end of it.

  • http://nona-gaye.net Jennifer

    Why was Shani was supposed to sacrifice himself for the greater glory of Chad friggin Hedrick and his quest for (fool’s) gold?. Shani did the right thing. If Shani has screw up the team pursuit, he’d never hear the end of it. If Chad feels like Team USA didn’t contribute enough, he needs to look in the mirror. Last I checked, he didn’t even medal in two of his races. And whose fault is that?

  • Roger

    You all have missed the point.
    BOTH Hedrick and Davis’s conduct embarrassed our country…..race wasn’t a factor, in fact the race card has already been played out by Davis’s mother.

  • http://www.tbirdofparadise.blogspot.com Bird of Paradise

    I am writing one final comment to this post to explain that, in light of the information that came to my attention after posting it, I sincerely regret having written and posted on it. Long ago I requested blogcritics to remove this post but was told that their policy would not allow them to do this. I long ago removed this post from my own blog site.

    Yesterday I requested blogcritics once again to delete this post. Again, they declined to do so but were considerate enough to add an “Update” to the beginning of the post.

    All that is left for me to do is to personally disassociate myself from the article and request that no one either quote from or link to it.

    Much aloha to all, and my public apology to Shani Davis and his family for (unintentionally) misrepresenting the facts of his participation as an honorable member of the 2006 US Winter Olympics Team.

  • Jools Hollander

    Chad Hedrick is just a stupid, WASP, bigotted, racist asshole. He’s the typical one day fly in the speedskating world, never reaching his peak level. Shani Davis continues to whoop everybody’s ass and should continue doing that. That stupid “patriotism” is just bullshit. Most americans are just stupid, especially if they’re WASPs like Chad Hedrick.
    Stop pointing your finger at an extremely good skater who is the ultimate olympian and look at the facts: Hedrick is a nobody and never will be any better. The 5.000 and 10.000 meters are dominated by a Dutchman who outclasses Hedrick by lightyears and the shorter distances are dominated by Davis, so what about that m*therf*cking, c*cksucking asshole Hedrick

  • gregster

    “Can’t we all just get along”; for the sake of good sportsman-ship, and a positive representation of American athleticism, the two to need make up. Put all past mess aside.

  • Whodaa

    Jools HOllander you must be one of those skaters who cannot stand the fact that inliners have ruled the ice recently. Image that a person who decided one day while playing black jack in vegas to switch to ice. The best part about your comment is that after Chad has won about 60 world titles on inline and pretty much everything else in the sport made the transistion. It probably bothers you even more that Chad eats when he wants parties likes a rockstar and even ate a footlong subway before setting a 5K world record. The truth of the matter is that chad from a peak performance stand point was already on his way down for the first apperance in torino. Still won a gold, silver and bronze and he won two more the next games. If chad would have stepped on ice at 21 he would have been the most winning speed skater ever from an olympic standpoint. He is a natural athlete with more ability than you could imagine. I would like to see any of the elite class ice skaters make the transisition to inline. You would not last one second because your legs could not handle the friction. I mean come on you people spend years training, eating and staying on track to your regiment. He does what ever he wants become a sport icon then retires.

  • Ciacorps

    Time and time again, Shani Davis–even in the ’14 Sochi Olympics–seems to have a major chip on his shoulder. He comes from that same Chicago thug culture that President Obama proudly hails from: sullen, sneering, extremely arrogant and resentful. Davis won’t even look white reporters in the eyes or even face them during interviews; he just stands askew and looks away with a constant frown and a shrug. So much bitterness and reverse discrimination. He must have been an active member of Jeremiah Wright’s “church” in Chicago. –Luke Johnstone

    • Rob Knaggs

      You’re odd.

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