The saddest thing about the whole Gwen Berry incident is that media coverage, by and large, cares more about this individual’s activism than the extraordinary events that transpired that day for the athletes. DeAnna Price, the Olympian hammer thrower and 2019 U.S. hammer throw world champion, took first place during the U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials, whereby she demonstrated extraordinary athleticism.
NBC Sports reported, “[o]f Price’s six attempts in the women’s hammer final, five would have been good enough for first place…On her first throw of the final, she improved her own Olympic Trials record (77.82 meters). She broke her American record on her third attempt (79.98 meters) and then broke it again on her fifth throw (80.31). With that mark, she became the second woman to throw over 80 meters.”
However, when searching the terms “DeAnna Price” and “Gwen Berry” on Google Trends, the results suggest Berry was the one that did something extraordinary relative to Price. Over the past several days, the search results show more interest in Berry’s activism than there had been for Price’s athletic achievement. At the peak, there was a 25-to-1 ratio, whereby Berry received more searches than Price. Furthermore, the related queries being searched associated with their names highlight what users are interested in knowing about them. For instance, the search term “DeAnna Price” includes an interest in “who is Deanna Price” and “Deanna Price and Brooke Anderson.” (Brooke Anderson came in second place.) In contrast, the search term “Gwen Berry” demonstrated users looked up phrases like “Gwen Berry anthem” and “Gwen Berry national anthem.”
It is unfortunate to see this social behavior. I would like to think athletes would want to be recognized for their skill, determination, and sportsmanship and not their political attitude. While this highlights unfortunate social trends, Berry’s behavior was also highly self-centered. She publicly marginalized Price’s achievement as indicated by search trends on the internet and disproportionate media coverage. To me, this is what makes her behavior reprehensible. While we can certainly debate whether how she “protested” was appropriate, what is without question is that Berry made it about her and not about the individual success of her fellow athletes and collective success of having the best athletes representing the country at the Olympics.
I believe this growing trend in political activism in sports is starting to diminish its purpose. It buries athletic achievement under political activism when the whole purpose of sports is to promote the successes of athletes. Activism in sports has become a cheap opportunity for individuals to get notoriety for something other than their achievement. It speaks to the twisted mentality that has crept into the social conscious: a desire to be famous without being good at anything.
In general, one should not pay any attention to these moments of narcissistic tendencies. After all, it is a free country, and Berry can freely express herself as she wishes. But when individuals, and society for that matter, has progressed into a state of mind that being good at something is not relevant, that an individual’s achievement should take the backseat because political activism is of “interest to the public,” it is a sign that society has lost the way.
It is a reoccurring theme coming from the political left. Everyone wants to be a Hollywood star, a political activist on TV, a social media influencer, or an executive at a company the moment they graduate college. (Because they know so much about the world after a semester of gender studies, critical race theory, and the male patriarchy.) However, these same individuals do not want to do the work unless it trends on social media—and even then, that may not be a motivating factor. Berry’s behavior is representative of a self-entitled generation of Americans that do not feel like they need to earn anything but at the same time desire fame, wealth, and status.
At any rate, I hope Berry enjoys her newfound fame. I hope she gets interviews booked on the major progressive media outlets so she has the opportunity to speak “her truth.” I hope after the Olympic games she becomes a famous activist because she desires it.
Joshua Peters is a philosopher and social critic from Raleigh, NC. His academic background is in western philosophy, STEM, and financial analysis. Joshua studied at North Carolina State University (BS) and UNC Charlotte (MS). He is a graduate of the E.A. Morris Fellowship for Emerging Leaders.