Russia, Ukraine & what’s hard

It feels a little funny to me to be sitting at the keys of my computer in the comforts of my own home today… having a cup of coffee… quietly delighting in my daily, refreshing quiet time. It was a full week, in fact… work, walks, even time for a few Netflix Originals. Some of the week was hard — a couple tough conversations… a mistake made by me… and Publix not having the specific sushi I wanted when that’s what I was sincerely craving. 

But it dawns on me deeply… we don’t always know what “hard” really is… 

Approximately 5,596 miles away (thank you, Travelmath), sits Kyiv — Київ, as written in Ukrainian — the capital city, which along with the rest of the Eastern European country is currently under attack. Russia’s invasion is the largest military assault by one European state on another since World War II.

Ukraine has an estimated population of 41.2 million people. Suffice it to say those 41.2 million people know today what “hard” is.

War is hard. While no war seems a good war, so-to-speak, war may be necessary — assuming an anti-pacifist perspective — as outlined by the Just War theory, especially as advanced by Saint Augustine; sometimes war may be the only means of restoring justice. While longer explanations are noteworthy, among other principles, a Just War means that war is only waged as a last resort; all nonviolent options must first be exhausted; the ultimate goal is to reestablish peace; and civilians are never permissible targets.

To be blunt and brief, Russia’s war is not just.

As explosions continue in key cities as we speak, the potential global destabilization from this vicious act is enormous. I’m no expert. None of us are. We’re not even close. And even though the Intramuralist has been on a year long personal effort to pay more focused attention to the foreign affairs academics and actually read U.S. State Dept. briefings in the fragile foreign areas, I’m still not certain I have a complete grasp of all that’s going on. The reality is that while this invasion is the largest military assault by one European/Asian state on another since World War II, most of us have only read about WWII in history books; we haven’t seen this live.

And so there’s something in me that simply wants to acknowledge what we don’t know. Sometimes I feel because we don’t know, we don’t care… 

… I don’t know a person who’s like that, so it’s easy for me to have this opinion… I don’t know anyone who’s in that situation, so I really don’t care very much… Out of sight, out of mind, right?… 

And so sometimes I feel at least I — maybe you’re a little wiser, more-tuned in than me — but sometimes I feel like precisely because I can simply sit behind the keys of my computer, leisurely drink my coffee, relax and enjoy my morning — or because I can even be irritated by an inability to satisfy my specific sushi pining — I don’t care enough, know enough, or perhaps empathize enough with what I don’t fully understand.

I don’t want my personal comforts and convenience to keep me from knowing what’s going on in the world.

Better yet: I don’t want my ease to taint my awareness of what’s really hard.

If I’m honest, I have really more to say.

I simply want the comfort and ease of my own home to not insulate me from the painful realities of all that’s going on in the world.

That’s all.

This is hard.

God be with the people of Ukraine and so much more.



why be gracious? why shake hands?

On the first non-football weekend of 2022, sports fans were treated to a far less ethical degree of fanfare. At the conclusion of CBS’s nationally televised NCAA basketball game between the universities of Michigan and Wisconsin, the Wolverines’ head coach Juwan Howard struck the face of a Badgers’ assistant while going through the end-of-game handshake line. The incident immediately intensified, with three players proceeding to throw punches at their opponents on the hardwood. 

Obviously, the moment was awful. At the end of a game — yes, by definition basketball is still a game — grown men who coach almost grown men couldn’t handle their emotions respectfully. No wise one wants to see such happen. Hence, to deter a repeated scenario, not only have fines and suspensions been handed down, but many have called for more.

One of the calls for more to keep this from happening again — advocated for by multiple high-profile athletes or commentators, such as by Rex Chapman, Patrick Ewing, and ESPN’s Dick Vitale — is to eliminate the handshake line at the end of the game.

As Vitale opined, “Too many incidents!”

So let’s get this clear…

The handshake line is an age-old, orderly practice of demonstrating good sportsmanship. Sportsmanship is good. Sportsmanship means treating one another with respect — never teasing or bullying, never whining or making excuses, being fair, encouraging, and generous, and taking pride in a win but absolutely never rubbing it in…

Good game… It’s over… May we be gracious in victory or defeat…

Graciousness. Regardless of who wins.

And yet, isn’t the whole thought of getting rid of the handshake line a microcosm of all that’s wrong with society today?…

People are actually encouraging not practicing sportsmanship — not practicing what is good.

So let’s get this straight. People behave poorly so in order to deal with behavior we know to be less good, we lower our expectations for them. We no longer adhere to a cultural standard of what’s good and right and true…

Why be respectful?

Why be gracious? 

Why not even whine, make excuses and rub it in?…

We see it in all sorts of contexts and in various arenas. We see it in coaches and players… pundits and politicians… activists and celebrities… so-called leaders… and far too many on social media…

I realize that the handshake line may be hard when the competition has been fierce and some of the tactics have been perceived to be brutal. I realize it’s not always a pleasure to greet kindly the one who has bested me that day.

But we are missing out as a society when we begin to let any of the above serve as justification for lowering the ethical, behavioral bar. We are making culture worse — meaning more polarized, less empathetic, less honoring of other people — when we no longer advocate for sportsmanship. Regardless of victory or defeat.

The widely respected Michigan State coach, Tom Izzo, agrees. “No shaking hands, that’s typical of our country right now. Instead of solving the problem, let’s make an excuse and let’s see if we can just — instead of confronting and demanding that it changes — let’s eliminate it so that we don’t have those problems.”

Exactly. Coaches and players. Pundits, politicians, activists, celebrities, leaders and all of us on social media… we’re not solving any problems when we lower the behavioral bar.

Let’s expect better from one another. From self, too. May respect and graciousness never be a lesser priority.



are all protests the same?

“In a gentle way, you can shake the world.” — Mahatma Ghandi

I keep ruminating on the not-so-gentle, collective unrest in the world — those moments when plaguing protests turn into huger headlines.

We see it now in the Canada convoy protest… 

The “Freedom Convoy.” Originally intended to protest vaccine mandates for crossing the U.S. border, vehicular convoys  began early this year, blockading multiple provincial capitals and border crossings. At the time of this posting, there have been no reported deaths nor significant injuries. The economic damage, no less, while still being determined, is currently estimated in the billions.

In so many places, in a hyper-partisan world, in which confidence in mainstream politics has become utterly, communally questionable, it seems various pockets of people keep hitting their boiling point, convinced that public protest is the most effective form of political expression.

Let’s acknowledge a few diverse more that got our attention (fully noting that this account is non-exhaustive)…

“Black Lives Matter” in 2020. After the tragic death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, BLM organized rallies to primarily protest police brutality and racially-motivated violence against black people. With protests occurring in 140 U.S. cities, property damage was also estimated in the low billions. According to Forbes, at least 19 persons died during the protests.

“Occupy Wall Street” in 2011. Beginning in New York City in September of 2011, the self-declared “99%” initiated a protest against income and wealth inequality and the influence of money in politics. The approximate 2 month protest cost is estimated to have cost NYC somewhere between $13-18 million, resulting in 400+ injuries and 32 deaths worldwide.

There were more, no doubt, around the globe… the “Anti-Austerity Movement” in Europe, the “Ferguson Unrest” near St. Louis, the “Gulabi Gang” in India, the “Orange Revolution” in Ukraine, the “Umbrella Movement” in Hong Kong… 

No continent nor country seems immune. To say it mildly, the protests and mass movements of the 21st Century have been significant.

The rumination is thus rampant… I wonder…

Are all protests the same?

Are some protests good and right and true and some not?

What makes a protest good and right and true?

Is it acceptable for a protest to be violent? If so, how violent? Does it matter?

If a protest is violent, does the purpose lose credibility? Validity?

When the property of the uninvolved is affected, how should that affect our advocacy?

Am I consistent in my personal advocacy or opposition?

Am I more lenient of disruptive or violent tactics when I understand the protestors’ purpose?

Am I more condemning of disruptive or violent tactics because I have no empathy for the purpose?

And lastly…

Do we really believe a gentle way can shake the world?



[Note: sources credited for protest data and statistics include Area Vibes, Axios, Forbes, NPR, USA Today, Wikipedia, and Yahoo!News.]

pleasing a mob or embracing diversity?

Every now and then I read an account that just makes me think. No commentary necessary. Jennifer Sey published one this week in Common Sense. Sey is the global brand president of Levi’s, who had worked there for over two decades, but resigned this week because the company did not want her speaking out about COVID-related school closures. I will include Sey’s abbreviated editorial here. Feel free to join me in thinking… 

“… My tenure at Levi’s began as an assistant marketing manager in 1999, a few months after my thirtieth birthday. As the years passed, I saw the company through every trend. I was the marketing director for the U.S. by the time skinny jeans had become the rage. I was the chief marketing officer when high-waists came into vogue. I eventually became the global brand president in 2020—the first woman to hold this post. (And somehow low-rise is back.) Over my two decades at Levi’s, I got married. I had two kids. I got divorced. I had two more kids. I got married again. The company has been the most consistent thing in my life. And, until recently, I have always felt encouraged to bring my full self to work—including my political advocacy…

In 2008, when I was a vice president of marketing, I published a memoir about my time as an elite gymnast that focused on the dark side of the sport, specifically the degradation of children. The gymnastics community threatened me with legal action and violence. Former competitors, teammates, and coaches dismissed my story as that of a bitter loser just trying to make a buck. They called me a grifter and a liar. But Levi’s stood by me. More than that: they embraced me as a hero. 

Things changed when Covid hit. Early on in the pandemic, I publicly questioned whether schools had to be shut down. This didn’t seem at all controversial to me. I felt—and still do—that the draconian policies would cause the most harm to those least at risk, and the burden would fall heaviest on disadvantaged kids in public schools, who need the safety and routine of school the most. I wrote op-eds, appeared on local news shows, attended meetings with the mayor’s office, organized rallies and pleaded on social media to get the schools open. I was condemned for speaking out. This time, I was called a racist—a strange accusation given that I have two black sons—a eugenicist, and a QAnon conspiracy theorist. In the summer of 2020, I finally got the call. ‘You know when you speak, you speak on behalf of the company,’ our head of corporate communications told me, urging me to pipe down. I responded: ‘My title is not in my Twitter bio. I’m speaking as a public school mom of four kids.’ 

But the calls kept coming. From legal. From HR. From a board member. And finally, from my boss, the CEO of the company. I explained why I felt so strongly about the issue, citing data on the safety of schools and the harms caused by virtual learning. While they didn’t try to muzzle me outright, I was told repeatedly to ‘think about what I was saying.’ Meantime, colleagues posted nonstop about the need to oust Trump in the November election. I also shared my support for Elizabeth Warren in the Democratic primary and my great sadness about the racially instigated murders of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd. No one at the company objected to any of that.

Then, in October 2020, when it was clear public schools were not going to open that fall, I proposed to the company leadership that we weigh in on the topic of school closures in our city, San Francisco. We often take a stand on political issues that impact our employees; we’ve spoken out on gay rights, voting rights, gun safety, and more. The response this time was different. ‘We don’t weigh in on hyper-local issues like this,’ I was told. ‘There’s also a lot of potential negatives if we speak up strongly, starting with the numerous execs who have kids in private schools in the city.’ I refused to stop talking…

Meantime, the Head of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the company asked that I do an ‘apology tour.’ I was told that the main complaint against me was that ‘I was not a friend of the Black community at Levi’s.’ I was told to say that ‘I am an imperfect ally.’ (I refused.) The fact that I had been asked, back in 2017, to be the executive sponsor of the Black Employee Resource Group by two black employees did not matter. The fact that I’ve fought for kids for years didn’t matter… 

In the fall of 2021, during a dinner with the CEO, I was told that I was on track to become the next CEO of Levi’s—the stock price had doubled under my leadership, and revenue had returned to pre-pandemic levels. The only thing standing in my way, he said, was me. All I had to do was stop talking about the school thing.

But the attacks would not stop. Anonymous trolls on Twitter, some with nearly half a million followers, said people should boycott Levi’s until I’d been fired. So did some of my old gymnastics fans. They called the company ethics hotline and sent emails… In the last month, the CEO told me that it was ‘untenable’ for me to stay. I was offered a $1 million severance package, but I knew I’d have to sign a nondisclosure agreement about why I’d been pushed out. The money would be very nice. But I just can’t do it. Sorry, Levi’s.

I never set out to be a contrarian. I don’t like to fight. I love Levi’s and its place in the American heritage as a purveyor of sturdy pants for hardworking, daring people who moved West and dreamed of gold buried in the dirt… But the corporation doesn’t believe in that now. It’s trapped trying to please the mob—and silencing any dissent within the organization. In this it is like so many other American companies: held hostage by intolerant ideologues who do not believe in genuine inclusion or diversity.

In my more than two decades at the company, I took my role as manager most seriously. I helped mentor and guide promising young employees who went on to become executives. In the end, no one stood with me. Not one person publicly said they agreed with me, or even that they didn’t agree with me, but supported my right to say what I believe anyway. I like to think that many of my now-former colleagues know that this is wrong. I like to think that they stayed silent because they feared losing their standing at work or incurring the wrath of the mob. I hope, in time, they’ll acknowledge as much.

I’ll always wear my old 501s. But today I’m trading in my job at Levi’s. In return, I get to keep my voice.”

Respectfully… still thinking…


more than sports. more than the Super Bowl.

Today is the day! … although not just any day. It’s Super Bowl Sunday! … although not just any Super Bowl. The Cincinnati Bengals are the “home team” for Super Bowl LVI, and there’s something uniquely sweet about the Bengals making it this far. Stay with me for a moment — even if not a sports fan, if you will. I indeed believe this is about far more than sports. As one who lived in the Queen City for 25 years — whose sons grew up there — there exists a vibe about being a Bengals fan, that outside of the Cincinnati faithful, one may not truly understand. 

It’s different. It’s deep. No one ever searches for “America’s Team” and finds the Cincinnati Bengals anywhere near the list. Primetime moments are few. They’re not known for their winning. In fact, over the course of their 54 year history, they’ve been known for many things on and off the field that they’d like to forget. 

What’s it like to be a Bengals fan? What’s been hard? Hear from a chorus of Bengals fans…

“The hardest part is all these years of disappointment… No respect… It feels like we’ve been the joke of the NFL… Everyone’s punchline…

It hasn’t been fun… Outside of Cincinnati — and sometimes even in Cinti — it just hasn’t been cool to be a fan… People didn’t take us seriously…

Low expectations for so many years… Always a gaping hole somewhere… Such a defeatist mentality… potential has always felt squandered... I never believed we could win an important game…

A roller coaster with too many years of disappointing outcomes… My hopes have always been dashed… Always watching us struggle… No one, including our fans, thought we were a legitimate contender for as long as I’ve been alive…

Rough… Painful… Embarrassing… Frustrating… So frustrating…”

The emotions of a diehard Bengals fan run deep. As one chimed in, “I felt like I was loyal but the team was not.” It’s hard to be a fan of a small market team that doesn’t have a historical track record of victory, prudent team management, nor consistent, individual integrity. As another opined, “It’s easy to be a fan of the Steelers or Tom Brady. It takes guts to remain a steadfast Bengals fan.”

Prior to this year, the Bengals last won a playoff game 31 years ago. This was expected to be year #32. But the unexpected occurred. Behind great leadership, talented skill players, and a changed culture in which players hold one another accountable, really like each other, and realize what they can do together, the Cincinnati Bengals find themselves both gleefully and confidently playing in Super Bowl LVI. Call it surprising. Call it unheard of. Call it one of the current best stories in sports. Hear it once more from the fans… 

How does it feel to be in Super Bowl 56?

“AMAZING! … Flat out amazing!… The feeling is joyful and huge… I feel like I’m in some alternative universe… Really great… Awesome!… I am SHOCKED!… It feels like a dream… Very excited!… It’s a big, BIG deal!… Fantastic… So happy!… I still have to pinch myself… Surreal… I’m so proud… Incredible… Doesn’t seem possible… It doesn’t feel real… Unbelievable… Spectacular!… I love this team!… My heart can’t believe it… So fun!… I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that I root for a team that’s actually one of the best in the league… This feels like full circle and let me tell you, it feels good…”

This is only a snippet; let me add that the “amazing’s” were tenfold.

But allow me to share an additional, developing aspect that also may go unnoticed outside the Cincinnati faithful. In a cultural moment where too often we find things to fight about — and too frequently focus on what we don’t have in common — note what’s happening as a result of the Bengals unexpected, exuberant success…

“I love the feel of the city… what a sense of community!… Seeing the way the city has rallied around the team is unbelievable… fans from all over the world are connecting… genuine friendships… I feel the pulse of the city begin to beat in synchronicity with one another… Loving the energy of the greater Cincy-area with schools closing and challenges to raise money for food banks… I’m so proud of how this has rallied the area! … A real sense of pride in the community!… It feels like an incredible way to bring Cincinnati together after 2 years of depressing Covid issues… celebrities and Instagram influencers are announcing they are rooting for the Bengals… It’s exciting to see the country come together to root on our guys… It makes it that much sweeter… I couldn’t be more proud to say I’m a Bengals fan!”

Let us be sure to acknowledge that there is another team with loyal fans who may be victorious this night. I wish the Los Angeles Rams well. And I think that reveals one more admirable aspect of the Bengals sweet, unexpected season. Maybe because of their track record, maybe because this was so unexpected, maybe because of the years of frustration and even embarrassment, one doesn’t hear a lot of offense nor insult amid Bengals fandom; there’s no “Hey, Rams, take that” or “You’re going down!” There just isn’t any hostile focus on the other team.

There is simply a humble, joy-filled love and appreciation for a team that has given its fans something they never expected nor felt they deserved. Indeed, this is about far more than sports. Go Bengals, go.



great expectations

It’s typically the largest audience of any American television broadcast each year…

It’s the second-largest day of American food consumption… (insert ‘egad’ here…)

It’s also a day when even the far-more-than-casual fan tunes in…

It’s Super Bowl LVI. The Rams at the Bengals (…well, really the Bengals at the Rams — at SoFi Stadium in Souther California). Los Angeles vs. Cincinnati. The NFC vs. the AFC.

On Sunday, we’ll make this story a little more personal, tapping into some of the more in-depth insights that make this game especially special. But there’s one insight that’s been brewing in me for maybe three, four weeks now. One that’s significant. One that applies arguably everywhere elsewhere…

I’m pondering the relationship between expectation, gratitude and joy.

How do the three fit together?

Back to football, for a moment…

By all accounts, the Los Angeles Rams expected to be in this game.

Also by all accounts, the Cincinnati Bengals did not.

Said talented Cincinnati quarterback, Joe Burrow, a week ago, “If you told me that we were going to the Super Bowl at the beginning of the season, I would’ve called you crazy.” To be clear, he was by far not the only one.

It’s not that the Rams were cocky nor the Bengals were selling themselves short. But no doubt one of the great balances of life is learning how to hope for the best while still holding onto reality. 


There’s seems this fascinating phenomena when observing what happens when our expectation bar rests lower than reality. And please know, I’m not suggesting any intentional lowering of the bar. I’m simply acknowledging that there’s something especially sweet that accompanies unexpected success…

Maybe it’s joy.

Maybe it’s gratitude.

Maybe it’s an awareness of blessing… even ones that aren’t promised nor asked for.

Whatever it is, it is beautiful and good.

And so we ponder our expectations elsewhere… 

… in our work… our relationships… 

… our politics… our aspirations…

… our health… our faith… 

… and more.

Once again we see that while sports is oft identified as “just a game,” its implications and opportunity for learning extend way beyond any arena or competitive playing field… Where have we set our expectations so high that we are missing out on something so beautiful and good?

The weekend, no less, will bring much to watch…

The expected rise of the talented Rams are the last stop on the unexpected journey of the upstart Bengals… featuring QB’s Matthew Stafford and Joe Burrow — such likable leaders… and also the youngest combo of head coaches ever to meet in the Super Bowl…

I can’t wait.

What a joy…



diversity in the NFL

On Super Bowl week, let’s start here… an aspect that’s very non-Super Bowl-ish and has implications far beyond the gridiron. 

On Tuesday former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores filed a 58-page class action lawsuit in federal court against the NFL, 3 specific teams, and 29 unnamed others. He is accusing them of racial discrimination in the hiring and retention of black coaches and high level, team personnel. 

It’s actually a fascinating read, as it reads not as a typical legal filing…

It begins with 2 quotes — first by New England head coach Bill Belichick (with his second word, I might add, being a word never felt appropriate to repeat on this blog) — and second by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., addressing the inability to legislate morality but the ability to instead affect behavior. The succeeding preliminary statement then acknowledges that the plaintiff is filing on the first day of Black History Month, desiring to honor the racial leaders who’ve gone before us, such as King, Harriet Tubman, Jackie Robinson, and more. Combined with additional, included portraits and portrayals, it thus reads a little more narrative in form, in my opinion. Please note: that doesn’t make it inaccurate nor wrong; it simply reads differently.

The case is challenging from a legal perspective, as class actions are always difficult to lawfully substantiate, and in regard to Flores’s situation in particular, he accuses team owners/leaders of sham interviews and other questionable and unscrupulous behavior, not necessarily related to ethnicity. Hence, from this far away, it’s impossible to discern with certainty whether or not Flores was hired, fired, retained or treated differently due to the color of his skin. Let us, no less, additionally never forget that how far away we are shapes and potentially obstructs our perspective in these situations… in most situations, if we’re honest. We don’t know what we don’t know.

So let us simply respond with what we do know, as the Intramuralist’s desire is for all of us, who are created equal, to all be treated equal.

An abbreviated list then of what we know for certain in regard to the NFL, diversity, race and hiring practices…

  • There are 32 NFL teams. Of the 32 team owners, 30 are Caucasian.
  • 11 of the owners are female — 6 of whom own them outright.
  • Somewhere between 58-70% of the NFL’s players are black (rosters vary year to year and throughout the year)
  • At the top of NFL office leadership structure — referring to the Commissioner and 9 top positions — there are 4 white men, 2 black men, and 4 white women.
  • The “Rooney Rule” was implemented by the NFL in 2003 for purposes of encouraging the hiring of more coaches of color. It established an interview quota as opposed to a hiring quota. 
  • Since implementation of the Rooney Rule, teams have hired more than 20 non-white head coaches — a bit more than 15% of all hires.
  • There is currently only 1 black head coach and 1 Hispanic head coach — although 2 coaches who are persons of color (including Flores) lost their positions last month.
  • 19% of current NFL general managers are black.
  • The NFL office has openly acknowledged in recent years that they “must see different outcomes” and have not “done well” in building ethnic diversity in its upper ranks.
  • Some suggest there is a separation in approach/thinking by team owners and the league office. 
  • Many question, also, how prevalent nepotism is a factor in NFL top level coaching hires.

It will be interesting to watch this specific case as the off-season begins (note: there’s one really big game to be played first… “WHO DEY,” by the way). Flores, to note, has asked the court for “injunctive relief necessary to cure the Defendants’ discriminatory policies and practices,” in addition to compensatory damages. He, also, as of this posting, remains a candidate for 2 of the currently open NFL head coaching positions. 

So how do we remedy this?

How do we ensure all people are treated equally?

How do we ensure we never elevate one ethnicity over another?

These are tough questions, friends. And I have no easy answers. I simply want to always acknowledge truth — even what’s hard — and to ensure absolutely all are honored, valued, and that no man/woman/child is valued less nor more than another.



olympic-sized questions

Upon us once more is the Winter Olympics — officially the XXIV Olympic Winter Games — in Chinese: 第二十四届冬季奥林匹克运动会— and commonly known as Beijing 2022.

The 2022 Winter Olympic Games will run through February 20th, featuring 15 sports and 109 medal events. While the Opening Ceremony begins on Friday the 4th, the curling and luge competitions actually begin today.

Multiple questions come to mind every four year cycle (or 2, if you combine it with the Summer Olympic Games)… 

What country will take home the most medals?

How will the United States fare?

What underdogs will be surprisingly victorious?

And maybe the most fun… what individual stories will capture the country’s attention?

With all due respect to the 91 participating countries, the approximately 3,000 athletes, and the plethora of coaches, officials and volunteers, with some of the challenges in our current geo-political state, my mind settles on a few questions arguably bigger…

Ukraine has a total of 45 athletes competing in Beijing. Amidst the chaos to the east and northeast, 24 men and 21 women have been preparing to participate — a record number of athletes and a record number of sports for the Eastern European country. 

What happens if Russia invades or carries out a more demonstrable act of aggression while the games are being played?

And how will the Ukrainian and Russian athletes interact with one another? What will they say? What will that be like?

What, too, about Taiwan?

Taiwan will be sending a total of 4 athletes to the games — 1 man and 3 women. Originally, the Olympic team was not intending to partake in either the opening or closing ceremonies, noting hostilities between their country and the games’ hosts. Note, too, the once-planned boycott came after a Chinese official wrongly labeled Taiwan as “Taipei, China” — once again, not recognizing Taiwan as their own team.

China refuses to recognize Taiwan as a separate country. They wish to reunify no later than 2049, with multiple, serious and sobering military actions taking place now, aware of America’s questionable foreign policy approach since Afghanistan; it is thus widely believed China is willing to pursue reunification forcefully, speeding up the process, regardless of the Taiwanese people’s desire. Hence…

How will the Taiwanese and Chinese athletes interact? What will they say? Will they care if next to one another on the medal stand?

Can we recognize Taiwan for who they are? Can we actually, individually, celebrate them?

It’s a series of fascinating questions. Where do we prioritize one thing over another? 

Where do we turn a blind eye?

On a bit of a related tangent, it’s been interesting, too, witnessing the NBA — one of America’s most revenue-producing, professional sports — and how they view sports in China. They make millions in Chinese markets but seem to ignore blatant human rights grievances. Are they addressing racial and ethnic inequalities in all countries? If not, why?

And so we ask since we have from almost day one here: are some things bigger than sports?

I’d like to suppose indeed they are…

So one more “hence”… 

When and why?