All of that history matters right now, because politics are injecting themselves into another Olympic Games, this time bringing about a possible boycott of the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing. As a coach and Olympic gold medalist, I can say with certainty: There was no good that came from the boycotts of ’80 and ’84, and we shouldn’t do it again. Sports bring the world together; boycotts can tear it apart. And more than that, they can tear apart the lives of athletes and their families. Many live with questions and what-might-have-been moments for years.
What I learned in 1972, 1980, and 1984 is that politics robs the Olympic Games of their spirit. America should not add more politics to the Games in the year ahead by boycotting the Winter Games in Beijing. Our government has been through this once; we don’t need to do it again.