Friday, February 19, 2010

Don Paige on the 1980 Olympic Boycott

Both Dick Buerkle (5000 meters) and Don Paige (800 meters) lost their chance to compete at the 1980 Moscow olympics when President Jimmy Carter instituted a USA boycott of the olympics in responce to the December 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. On the 30th anniversary of the boycott, Don Paige recently had this reflection:

“There is no ill will. He [President Carter] took all the information he had at the time. I’m not a big fan of being a Monday-morning quarterback. Hindsight is a wonderful thing in this world, and he had to make a tough decision which I’m sure crushed him when he had to make a stand worldwide. And those people who want to say politics should never be mixed in with sports don’t live in the real world. Politics has always been in sports. You don’t think there were politics involved when Jesse Owens had to run in 1936 in front of Adolf Hitler? There sure was. There will always be politics in sports, and I believe Jimmy Carter made the best decision he could at the time. I’m not going to sit here and say he made a bad decision. I still say maybe because Don Paige did not go to the Olympics, maybe I spared one life in Afghanistan. And, if I did, I sleep really well at night because of that. It makes me feel good and proud.”
—Don Paige, Track and Field

1 comment:

  1. Well said Don. A measured, honest , and poignant statement about a topic which one could easily get bitter or resentfull. Its nice to see you have put it in such a clear and balanced perspective. Hats off to you.
    Doug Moreland, Penn Track "80