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Around the Games - Olympics: Day 7

Ryan,

Please understand that everything I’m about to say, I say as someone who was once a huge fan of yours. This whole situation is incredibly disappointing and infuriating. And it is all your fault.

No one can blame you for going out and partying after swimming in the Olympics. No one can blame you for getting drunk in Brazil because Caipirinhas are amazing. We can, however, criticize you for hiding behind false accusations to cover up your own offenses.

When you lied to authorities, claiming you were held up at gunpoint by some police impersonators, did you realize what you were doing? When you claimed they had robbed you and your friends of your valuables, did you realize you were on camera? I have to wonder how this situation would have shaken out if you had known you were being watched.

In your version of the incident, security guards turned into thieves and there was no mention of the fact that your gang vandalized the gas station. You neglected to tell police you scared the owner of the establishment and got aggressive when you couldn’t make your escape in a cab because security was doing their job. You got mad that they weren’t letting you get away with your shenanigans.

I’m 1,000 percent sure you didn’t mean for any of the fallout from this mess to have happened, but here we are. Your true character often bubbles up to the surface when you don’t think you’re being watched, and this entire incident has shown your character is severely lacking.

It’s great you learned “some valuable lessons” after the mess you made, but your apology is not good enough. While a representative of the IOC was content to write off your behavior as a kid who was having fun and made a mistake, I’m not. And neither are millions of others.

After you released a flimsy statement and did a TV interview, I cannot for the life of me figure out what lesson it is you have learned. You don’t seem to see the issue is that you lied to police, fabricating an incident of robbery and assault. You don’t seem to understand you perpetuated the United States’ reputation of being terrible with racial relations. You don’t seem to understand you completely undermined the spirit of the Olympics. You don’t seem to see the problem with doubling down on your lie by telling anyone who would listen how you were pulled over, which also never happened. You even went on the Today show with your lies.

No, Ryan, I don’t think you have learned anything from this. You were committed to the lie as long as it was working for you. You only came clean when you got caught. If you hadn’t been, I’m convinced you’d be shilling the same lie today. Sadly, I don’t believe you will learn anything from this until it actually costs you something.

You thought making up these accusations would be enough to frame yourself as a victim, because Whiteness. The thought process that allowed you to do any of this was racist. Surely, claiming you were robbed at gunpoint by some random Brown people was going to be believable enough to engender sympathy from everyone and distract them from digging any further into the situation. Surely, everyone was going to believe that nice, White guy from Florida because he doesn’t seem conniving enough (or even smart enough) to do something like this. He couldn’t possibly have done it.

The whole reason you thought you could get away with this is because of how you look. You’re aware of the fact that your privilege guarantees you the benefit of the doubt, off top. And you know that you, as a White man, are privy to a certain amount of forgiveness for any of your actions that Brown people (Black or otherwise) are straight up not granted.

For reference, U.S. citizens dragged and berated Gabby Douglas for not putting her hand over her heart during the National Anthem after her team earned a gold medal in gymnastics. She was a girl caught up in a moment of excitement and pride. Some demanded she be stripped of her medals for something so small.

Apparently, though, you, Ryan, get to go to another country and vandalize a local business, aggressively confront security guards, and still not be held responsible if your lie is good enough and you maintain it long enough. Forget the facts! You get to go commit actual crimes, and it’s all just drunken hijinks. Boys will be boys, right? The problem here is that you’re a grown man, and this is not some knock-off version of The Hangover.

I’m aware you also paid for some of the destruction you caused but that is still not even close enough to cover the damages.

You have wasted the time of the police force in Rio and the criminal justice system in Brazil. You have wasted the resources of an already financially disparate nation. Those are time and resources that cannot be recovered and could have gone to the investigation and handling of serious crimes in the area. People who actually needed help may not have gotten it because authorities were too busy trying to get to the bottom of your deception.

Although I can’t say how I would react if a gun were pointed in my face, as you claim happened to you and your friends, I can certainly guarantee I wouldn’t have lied about what actually went down. I wouldn’t have reported an assault and robbery that never happened.

And to be clear, what you did was not the “over-exaggeration” you make this incident out to be. You lied. Don’t soften the language to make yourself seem like less of a jerk. You know you lied, so admit you lied. Own up to it. Be a man about it.

While I realize you don’t owe me personally an apology, you did owe it to your country to be a better representative of our best values. Instead, you have embarrassed us in front of the entire world all because you didn’t want to be held accountable for your actions. You have acted like a thug and disgraced us all. To make matters worse, you acted like a coward by leaving your friends to deal with the immediate aftermath. Be ashamed and do better.

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