Controversy and Racism at the Olympics, with Dr Bob Batchelor

The Diversity Movement’s Jackie Ferguson and Bob Batchelor discuss controversy and racism at the Olympics, touching on Sha’Carri Richardson, the ban on Afro swim caps, and Allyson Felix versus Nike.

Full episode video LIVE at the Earfluence studio in downtown Raleigh.


Jackie Ferguson: Hi, and welcome to season four of the Diversity Beyond the Checkbox Podcast; sponsored by The Diversity Movement. I’m your host, Jackie Ferguson, equality advocate and certified diversity executive. On this show, we discuss how diversity, equity, and inclusion benefit our workplaces, schools, and communities by sharing the stories, insights, and best practices of game-changers, leaders, and glass-ceiling breakers that are doing the work to make our world a more understanding, welcoming, and supportive place for us all.

Joined today by my colleague at The Diversity Movement and friend, Dr. Bob Batchelor. Bob is a critically acclaimed, best-selling cultural historian and biographer. Bob, thank you so much for joining me today. Will you tell our listeners just a little about you? 

Bob Batchelor: Yeah, thank you for having me, Jackie. I’m so excited as a long-time listener and your friend to be on the podcast to talk about such great topics. I see myself as a cultural historian and what that means is that, unlike somebody who studies something very slim throughout history, but studies it very deeply, I instead look at issues that affect broad ranges of society. And try to bring in cultural influences from music and television and film into history to show a more human type of history. And my sports writing goes back to high school when I was the first person in my high school’s history to have their own sports column–

Jackie Ferguson: Wow. 

Bob Batchelor:  Which was called Batchelor’s Bench.

Jackie Ferguson: I love that. 

Bob Batchelor: Uh, I kept riding sports because in my younger years, I was an athlete, which you, you know, listeners and now viewers may see not so much anymore, but back in the day, as we all like to say. But I’ve written several books on basketball, um, and other sports. And I edited an anthology that was over a million words that was the history of sports in the United States from colonial times through the 21st century. And so, I kind of corralled 60 or 70 different authors to look at those across all sports and fringe sports. 

So, quite a deep background in sports and cultural history. And I will just let everybody know my favorite Olympic moment, the Dream Team. Oh, that first dream team. I just got, I just got goosebumps just thinking — Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, and Magic Johnson on the same court, on the same team. 

Jackie Ferguson: Absolutely. That was, that was a cool moment. A cool moment. Well, Bob, the Olympic games in Tokyo starts next Friday, the 23rd. And I don’t know about you listeners, but Bob and I have been following some of the stories leading up to these events. But before we get into some of the current events, let’s just talk about the Olympics. And Bobby started us off by talking about the dream team. Are you more of a Summer Olympics guy, a Winter Olympics fan? 

Bob Batchelor: Well, obviously I’ve kind of given that scoop away. I liked; I liked the basketball a lot just because I played. I feel I have an affinity toward basketball. Um, I like to watch the Winter Olympics, but I probably feel closer to the Summer Olympics.

Jackie Ferguson: Yeah? 

Bob Batchelor: I really like, actually, to watch track and a lot of people don’t. I don’t like just to watch the sprints. Like, the 800 and the 1600 are my favorite. I like to watch the marathon because I think what the human body can do, those marathoners are off the charts. 

Jackie Ferguson: Yeah, for sure.

Bob Batchelor: And just to imagine, I’m at the point in my life where I don’t run unless somebody’s chasing me with a sharp object. 

Jackie Ferguson: Exactly. That’s right. 

Bob Batchelor: And so, to run, sprint 20– I mean, I couldn’t sprint that fast for 10 seconds, let alone 26.2 miles. So I, I really do enjoy the Olympics. Probably, I like the Summer Olympics a little better, but in the Winter, it’s, you know, another great moment is, you know, I’m dating myself here. But I kind of first imagined the Olympics when Eric Heiden won all those speed skating–

Jackie Ferguson: Mhm, yeah. 

Bob Batchelor: — Events and he was kind of America’s darling. Back before the Olympics, I mean, it was big, but not that, not as big. 

Jackie Ferguson: Yeah. 

Bob Batchelor: And those are some of my first. I remember the 1980 hockey wins, so I really enjoy the Olympics. How about you? What are you looking forward to? 

Jackie Ferguson: That’s awesome. So I, I loved the, the figure skating in the Winter Olympics, but I’m definitely a Summer Olympics person. I love the gymnastics; I love the track and field. I watch a little bit of the swimming, but the gymnastics and the track and field are our big events for me to watch. And one of the reasons is because my daughter ran track for, um, the North Carolina– she was on the North Carolina State championship team two years in a row. And it would have been a third except for, you know, COVID.

Bob Batchelor: Wow.  

Jackie Ferguson: And, um, you know, so I know, like, how much pressure it is and how much it takes to prepare; even at the state level, let alone at the national level, the Olympic level. It’s, it’s a lot of preparation and I just really respect that. Well, Bob, let’s get into some of these controversies of the current Olympics. So let’s start, of course, with who everyone’s talking about right now, Sha’Carri Richardson. So Sha’Carri ran in 10.86 in the 100 meters for the, uh, trials. in June. Everybody was, like, super excited about her.

She, she has a different look, right? She’s got these long nails, like Flo Jo used to have and, you know, the colored hair and it’s cool. Like, she’s a really cool, talented athlete. And then as we all know, we all were devastated. Right? Because we were so excited about seeing her run, but she received an Olympic suspension for testing positive for THC.

And that disqualified her from her signature event, which is the 100 meters. She did come forward with, you know, an apology and an explanation, which is, you know, her mother recently passed away and she was using it as a coping mechanism, which, you know, I understand she is disqualified from her event. And, you know, again, it’s, it’s tragic, right?

For those of us who were looking forward to watching her. But she was also disqualified from competing in the 4 by 100, which occurs, she got a 30-day suspension. That occurs after the 30 days. So they’re not letting her run in the 4 by 1. And so, what are your thoughts about that, Bob? And, and, you know, I think they need to let her run in the four by one. 

Bob Batchelor: Yeah. We could spend the rest of the time just unpacking this one, but you know, to hit the highlights. I mean, here’s this 21-year-old and she’s an overnight sensation set for superstardom. 

Jackie Ferguson: Absolutely.

Bob Batchelor:  I mean, you know, just an amazing athlete. Doing this with that pain and suffering of her birth mother passing away, and it seemed to me, you know, if we put on our PR hats, our communications hats, she made the right steps. She came out the next day and says, “I am human.” She goes on the Today Show and publicly apologizes and that’s, those are important steps that show maturity. 

Jackie Ferguson: That’s right. 

Bob Batchelor: So on one hand, you look a 21-year-old by any survey, any study that’s done scientifically, 21-year-old brain is 99% of the time not fully developed. So, to think that her, her life really, a major part of her life is being taken away from her for doing something that’s legal in the state that she resides– 

Jackie Ferguson: –That’s right. 

Bob Batchelor: That is, that’s criminal in and of itself. 

Jackie Ferguson: Exactly. That’s true, Bob, because she was in Oregon. It’s legal. Right? So, I’m just like, the four by one for me, like, she needs to compete in the four by one. I was really disappointed. I know that they were looking to make that decision and we’re waiting on that. But, you know, certainly “do your time” as they say, but there’s no reason to keep her out of that, that four by one. 

Bob Batchelor: Yeah. And we look at, uh, I looked it up yesterday. 18 states allow recreational marijuana use, 36 states, uh, medical use. 

Jackie Ferguson: Yeah. 

Bob Batchelor: This is a major problem. And if you look at it historically, so that’s what I do as a cultural historian. 

Jackie Ferguson: Yes, that’s right. 

Bob Batchelor: We have been dealing with this back well before prohibition, and we still deal with these issues today with prohibition. And into the 1920s, the, the outlawing of alcohol just led to all kinds of bad things.

Jackie Ferguson: Yeah. 

Bob Batchelor:  And it gave people a lawlessness in their lives that we’ve never really moved away from. And so, you have different political ideologies who use these things as like a ping pong or a sticking point every single time. And so, we still here in North Carolina, you’ve got to go to a state store to buy alcohol and the taxes are high. 

Jackie Ferguson: Yeah. 

Bob Batchelor: Um, you know, where, where I live in Cincinnati, we travel to Kentucky all the time and the distillers association has a heavy lobby group. They have to. There were billions of dollars on the line when the Trump administration was unable to cut deals with China. There, there’s a lot of challenges. And marijuana use is right in there. And let’s just put it out there. I have a “friend” who’s maybe tried marijuana before. Knows some people.

Jackie Ferguson:  Right, right.

Bob Batchelor: There is no way that you could tell me that marijuana usage is going to help a world-class athlete who runs a, a 10.8, 600. 

Jackie Ferguson: That’s right. 

Bob Batchelor: That’s going to help her in any way, shape, or form? So, if that’s the case and they extend this regulation so that they don’t even let her run the relay, sometimes if it quacks like a duck and it looks like a duck, it’s a duck. And this duck is racism. This is racist because they want her to be this role and it’s okay. Athletes are, it’s such a strange thing. You have to fit into a box if you’re a black athlete. And they kind of want to slip her into, like, she’s edgy, but maybe like a Dennis Rodmanish kind of thing. Like, before he really went out.

Jackie Ferguson: Right. 

Bob Batchelor:  Like, when he was with the Bulls, and he could be crazy and have the multi-colored hair.

Jackie Ferguson: Right. 

Bob Batchelor: And she, she has that look. So whites allow blacks to play that clown role up into a point. And then if there is some regulation or rule, broken, that changes. And she has, you know, multicolored hair, tattoos. So on one hand, on one hand, she’s on the cutting edge of like, she looks like other 21-year old’s I know.

Jackie Ferguson:  Yep, that’s right. 

Bob Batchelor: But on the other hand, conventional white America is going to watch her really closely. 

Jackie Ferguson: That’s right. 

Bob Batchelor: That’s the truth of the matter. 

Jackie Ferguson:  That’s right. And let’s talk about, you know, a little more, dig into the bias a little bit. So, a lot of people are comparing her with Michael Phelps, who was the Olympic swimmer that got a three-month suspension for, um, the photo of him having, uh, uh, marijuana pipe in his mouth.

So the timing there was lucky for Phelps, right? Because the suspension occurred between the 2008 Olympics and the 2009 world championships. But he competed in the world championships after that three-month suspension. So if Sha’Carri got a 30-day suspension, why is she not able to compete in the four by one?

Bob Batchelor: Yeah. And just again, um, it just looks suspicious. And you have to think if the swimming association would have tried to prevent Phelps from competing, can you imagine the uproar? 

Jackie Ferguson: Yeah. 

Bob Batchelor: I mean, all of America would have been set afire. I mean, Twitter would have blown up because Phelps has, is the “Great White Hope” and this great and–

Jackie Ferguson:  Golden boy.

Bob Batchelor:  Deserves everything. You know, work, worked his tail off his whole life and, and seemingly, has paid some existential or, or price for that. If, if you see what he’s been doing since then, he’s done good things with his platform since. Certainly about neurodiversity and mental health. So, no disrespect to Michael Phelps.

Jackie Ferguson:  Right. 

Bob Batchelor: But this case. Come on. It, you know, if you want to be by the, the, the rule of the law, then don’t let her compete in one, but don’t kick her off the team. 

Jackie Ferguson: That’s right. 

Bob Batchelor: Don’t, don’t disallow her from going. Give her that event. 

That’s right.

Jackie Ferguson:  You only get it, it’s usually only once every four years. I mean, she can go on to be champion. What I thought about this as well, a 21-year-old. So, what kind of, you know, what kind of standard do we hold a 21-year-old to? And you, you look at some of the things people say. I thought, I like to think, so what’s the aftermath of this? You have Usain Bolt coming out saying he hopes that she’ll learn from this, but rules are rules. And Usain Bolt has obviously benefited from the track, establishment.

So he’s not going to venture too far out from this. But if you compare the kind of money she could have made–


Bob Batchelor: –In endorsements, Jackie Joyner-Kersee has made $2 million annually for the last three decades– 

Jackie Ferguson: Wow. 

Bob Batchelor: –Off endorsements. So, she certainly lost at least 2 to $3 million in endorsements. And the– some vape company offered her a quarter of a million to become a sponsor, which is just, you know, piling on the news.

Jackie Ferguson: Right. 

Bob Batchelor: And maybe she’ll take it because she potentially could have lost out on $10 million. 

Jackie Ferguson: Yeah. 

Bob Batchelor: You know? Companies are looking for interesting black spokespeople. And so, she stood– you win an Olympic gold medal in the hundred, she might’ve set a world record. Who knows?

Jackie Ferguson:  That’s right. 

Bob Batchelor: The world would have been her oyster. And as, as a 21-year-old, this changes her life. And all, because she did something that is legal. You know, she drove the 55 mile an hour speed limit in her state, but still got thrown in jail. 

Jackie Ferguson: Yeah. Well, Bob, let’s move on. We talked about Michael Phelps a little bit. Let’s move on to swimming, right? So, the International Swimming Federation, which is known as Fina, rejected an application to certify products from Soul Cap, which is a black-owned swim cap brand for competitions swimming.

And I’m going to read this piece. The Fina committee said it would not permit the swim caps because given the group’s, Fina’s, right? Best knowledge, competing athletes never used, neither required to use caps of such size and configuration. So basically, because, you know, we didn’t have a black athlete competing in swimming competitions until 2004.

So, Fina, right, are primarily not black, right? We can assume that. 

Bob Batchelor: Yes, yes. 

Jackie Ferguson: And because they’ve never needed them before, why do they need them now? Is the explanation. Because you’ve got two black women on, on the team this year. You know, which again, we didn’t have our first black female athlete to swim until 2004.

So, this right here is why we need representation, not only among the athletes, but in the rooms where the decisions are made. Because this here is, is just outright bias and not– now, the ruling is under review. Right? Thanks to all the backlash, but why do we have to be in an uproar in order for a sport to be inclusive?

Bob Batchelor: Yeah, this one is, is tough because it hearkens us immediately back to one of the worst stereotypes and, you know, countless jokes about blacks and water. And it is heartbreaking that this has become– it’s one of those stereotypes that’s almost become factual when you look at the actual facts about black children dying and black young adults.

You know, the Soul Cap founders founded this company because they themselves could not swim. And so, they put money into swim education, and this is, is about empowerment. And so, let’s attempt to take that awful stereotype off the table and flip it. And again, there, there’s nobody making decisions that has the qualification.

This is like me– you know, your car breaks down and you pull over and you ask me about the engine, just because I’m a man. 

Jackie Ferguson: Right. 

Bob Batchelor: Like, I have no clue. You know, sorry you found the wrong guy. 

Jackie Ferguson: Right, right, right. 

Bob Batchelor: That’s what these swim officials are doing. 

Jackie Ferguson: That’s right. 

Bob Batchelor: They have no clue.

Jackie Ferguson: And you know, the thing that’s frustrating, Bob, is, you know, they say, and this sport and a lot of sports that are historically, you know, white, that they want to be inclusive, they want representation. They want to attract, you know, culturally diverse swimmers that want to compete at all levels. Right? But this is a prime example of, of not being able to walk the walk. They’re talking the talk, but not walking the walk. And not having someone in the room or several people in the room that can properly evaluate if this swim cap is, you know, reasonable. And just making the statement, “No, we’re not going allow it,” without having conversations, without talking to people, without bringing culturally diverse people in the room. 

That’s, that’s a problem. And that’s not just a problem here. That’s a problem with lots of organizations and how they make decisions and how they message people without having people in the room who represent the market that they’re, they’re messaging.

Bob Batchelor: Yeah. And it’s, you know, I can tell you as a white guy who grew up in poor rural community, but kind of, hopefully, overcame my, my status through education, I hate the band-aid approach that’s going on now. I mean, since George Floyd’s murder and Brianna Taylor and all these positives that have come out of these horrific incidences, the, the fact that, that these companies just try to band-aid it over, you know. It’s what your podcast is all about beyond the checkbox, because so many organizations are just checking it off. And it’s actually offensive to me just as I like– offensive to me as a thinking person. A person who has something between barriers.

Jackie Ferguson: Yeah. 

Bob Batchelor: Like, be truthful with me.

Jackie Ferguson: Yeah. 

Bob Batchelor: Be truthful. Now, there are companies on the other hand, who are doing the right thing, like investing in HBCUs; actually trying to help people, trying to, to overcome. But so much of it is a, is a band-aid. It’s a quick fix. I don’t know what Fina is going to do here. Supposedly, they’re, they’re going to relook at this, but it’s, it’s too late for this Olympics. And there is a longer-term impact. Because when you look at the statistics, blacks from age 5 to 24 are exponentially more in danger of drowning than their peer groups. 

Jackie Ferguson: That’s right. Well, less than half of black children, Bob, can swim. You are a cultural historian. So, let’s dig into this a little bit. You know, it’s going back to the exclusion of black people, and you know, allowed in the swimming pools. 

Bob Batchelor: Yeah. In fact, even, you know, well past when Jim Crow shouldn’t have been taking place. I mean, because you and I both know we’ve been in the north enough to know there are towns that might’ve well have been in, you know, Jim Crow, Alabama that are in the north. Blacks in the 1900s into the, probably into the ’60s were, were barred from, from swimming, in public swimming pools. So, not only is it that children today don’t get swim education, but they’re never taught cause their parents don’t know how to swim. 

Jackie Ferguson: That’s exactly right. That’s exactly right. Because that’s how we learn. Right? Our parents teach us how to swim, but if your parents don’t know how to swim because their parents didn’t know how to swim, because their parents weren’t allowed in the pools, that’s why we have that issue. And, and this is just an example of how systemic inequities affect people generation by generation.

Bob Batchelor: Yeah. I looked at a USA swimming statistic. The latest statistics were from 2019. Only 1.4% of year-round swimmers, so that would be mainly competitive swimmers, were black and only 3.5% Hispanic. And it was primarily lack of access to a pool. You know, so when black kids are dying or teenagers are dying in drowning incidences, it’s usually in places where there aren’t lifeguards. So, in some areas, there aren’t lifeguards in the public pools. Even in hotels, this is happening. 

Jackie Ferguson: That’s right. Yeah.

Bob Batchelor: And so, black kids want to jump in the water too. 

Jackie Ferguson: Sure. 

Bob Batchelor: I mean, you’re, you’re basically, you’re holding their head under the water if you don’t create a system in which that education is universal.

Jackie Ferguson: Absolutely. 

Bob Batchelor:  Or at least much more widespread than it is now.

Jackie Ferguson: Absolutely. Bob, let’s talk a little about Gwen Berry. So, Gwen Berry placed third in the hammer throw. Because she was on the podium, they played the Anthem and she turned away from the flag at the U S track and field trials. Um, she put a t-shirt over her head that said activist athlete. And she is protesting systemic racism.

So, there’s been a lot of controversy around protesting in sports, right? Olympic protesting started with, against racial inequities, started with Tommy Smith and John Carlos at the 1968 Olympics. So, we all remember that picture, we’ve seen that picture with a raised fist and the black gloves. And, but just as an aside, Peter Norman, who was also in that photo, right?

The lone white guy in the photo that nobody pays attention to, actually was an Australian sprinter that had a badge, um, that said Olympic project for human rights. And that was an organization that opposed racism in sports. So, you know, we all know that, uh, Tommy Smith and John Carlos were banned from the Olympics for life. But it effectively ended Peter Norman’s career as well.

So, that, that’s an interesting aside on, you know, how racism has been protested in the Olympics. But Tommy Smith was quoted by the Washington post in saying that he expects to see protests in the 2021 Olympics, even though the international Olympic committee describes rule 50 as a framework to protect neutrality in sports in the Olympic games.

So, you know, some people are calling for a band for Gwen for, from competing, um, because of what she did in the trials. And she’s unsure, she has done some interviews, unsure if she’ll, she’ll protest during the Olympics. What do you think about that? You know, do you think she’s going to protest? What do you think about protesting in the Olympics against systemic racism?

Bob Batchelor: Well, I think, you know, hearkening back to my, my favorite moment, the dream team, it was pretty pathetic that, you know, Jordan takes, uses his global fame to protest capitalism. You know, or not his form of capitalism. So I would say, you know, in comparison, the way the NBA players reacted to, uh, George Floyd’s murder and the other police violence in the United States, is a healthy way to, to react.

And the Olympics, they’re professional athletes. They’re grown– many of them are grown adults. Many of them are multimillionaires. How are you going to stop them? The Olympic games can’t, it’s not Mount Olympus. This isn’t ancient Greece. Like we’re in a different, we’re in a different world.

Jackie Ferguson: That’s right. That’s right.  

Bob Batchelor: And you can, in fact, you know, I love when people say, you know, “If you don’t love the country, leave.” It’s the, it’s the stupidest thing that somebody could say.

Jackie Ferguson:  Right.

Bob Batchelor: If you love the country, do what is within your power to make it a better place. 

Jackie Ferguson: That’s right. 

Bob Batchelor: Think first as a human being. You know, I don’t need to look down and see I’m, I’m white. So, here’s the list of things I can do as a white person or think. I can think as a compassionate, ethical human being. 

Jackie Ferguson: Yeah. 

Bob Batchelor: And I think with, with Gwen Berry, she has every right to do this. She said, “The Anthem doesn’t speak for me. It never has.” And she is entitled to that. That’s nothing more than what the founders were saying when they said this British tax does not speak for me and it never has. This, this crown does not speak for me. What’s the difference? It’s the same, it’s the same thing, but what makes it different?

Hmm. Let’s see. The, also the second, you know, putting on our PR and marketing hats, again, this is the first controversy that we’ve discussed that was really blown up big, big, big by the Twitter rage, you know? And it, like Dave Chappelle says, “Twitter is like the writing on the bathroom wall.” And it’s Twitter. And it’s the intense partisanship that we live in now that really took this from, you know, it’s a bit of a story. 

Jackie Ferguson: Yeah. 

Bob Batchelor: An athlete being controversial; bit of a story. But Twitter and other social media made it huge. So, then the media, which no longer creates stories. They just jump on and pile drive stories. They make, this a bigger thing than it is. Gwen Berry says, “My purpose and mission is bigger than sports.”

And what better thing for an athlete to do. To me, this is– the controversy around this is just a facet and an outcome of a really ridiculously divisive, uh, political game that we’re, we’re in right now. Sadly, it’s hurting our nation. And if we’re still around in 500 years, the historians guys like me 500 years from now, and smart people like us, they will be, they will be saying, “What in the hell was going on back then? Because those people had their heads in the sand.” I mean, we’re getting closer to the sun every day and, and we’re worrying about, you know, somebody protesting, you know, the star-Spangled banner. 

Jackie Ferguson: You know, that’s, that’s so true, Bob. And, and the reason why we need to talk about these things is because, you know, we all see through our, our lens of experience, right?

We don’t really, as we’re going through life on our personal journey, don’t really understand or take time to see the differences in people and their experiences. You know, calling attention to, to these inequities is important so that people realize, “Well, we’ve got some work to do.” You know, I’ve got some allyship to, to administer, right? And, and participate in. Because it’s, it’s important, you know. We’ve, we’ve got to call attention to things that we need to see changed. And Bob, as we start to wrap up, uh, I definitely want to talk about Allyson Felix. So, not from a racial perspective, but from a women-having-children perspective.

Right? So, Allyson Felix, as, as we know is an incredible track athlete. She departed her deal with Nike in 2019 after the company said that they were going to reduce her pay by 70% after her pregnancy. Nike has since announced a maternity policy for athletes and other companies have followed suit. But she’s now working with Athleta, which is, which is great.

And she’s been, uh, invested in raising awareness around health care inequities facing black mothers. But let’s talk about Allyson Felix. I’m really excited to see her run. And I just think it’s terrible that women can’t make motherhood part of their journey. And I expect to have, you know, be able to keep their deals.

Bob Batchelor: Yeah. 

Jackie Ferguson: What do you think about that? 

Bob Batchelor: Yeah. I think this is, um, a horrific situation and you know, it’s too bad there wasn’t a way in which Nike could be penalized for this. I, I think if we asked, if we just stopped 10 people on the street, 9 of them would have some story about, uh, a working mom.

Jackie Ferguson: Yeah.

Bob Batchelor:  Who got laid off and then got a severance package so she wouldn’t complain. You know, things like this. The corporate world is rife with this. 

Jackie Ferguson: Yeah. That’s right. 

Bob Batchelor: And the, the unfairness. And I grew up with a single mom. And so I know the struggles of what that’s like. And Allyson Felix is the most decorated female Olympic track star. So, we bring our buddy Michael Phelps back into the picture.

Would Michael Phelps, you know, he, you know, he was given this little suspension. She is actually has money taking out of her, out of her income, you know? Her life. And the problem is Nike is not the only game in town, but they’re the dominant player. 

Jackie Ferguson: They are. 

Bob Batchelor: And so, they really dictate her future. And to do that, she should have hired great lawyers and just gone after them. I mean, it is good to see that she has as rebounded. I mean, and it was emergency C-section. Could you imagine? 

Jackie Ferguson: Yeah. 

Bob Batchelor: Imagine Michael Phelps broke his leg and uh, you know, couldn’t compete or something. You know, his, his, his sponsors would bring in every specialist from around the world, he’d get cutting edge treatments.

She has an emergency C-section. And she said after this, that she felt disrespected by Nike. 

Jackie Ferguson: Yeah. 

Bob Batchelor: She was disrespected by Nike.

Jackie Ferguson: That’s right.

Bob Batchelor: You could argue Nike has done a lot of good things for a lot of communities. 

Jackie Ferguson: Sure. 

Bob Batchelor: But not in this case. 

Jackie Ferguson: Right.

Bob Batchelor:  I mean, let’s just, let’s look at this case. The, the scales of justice are not in Nike’s favor. And so it is wonderful, I agree with you completely, the seeing Allyson Felix rise above this. Given her, I mean, 13 world championship gold medals, the most ever of any athlete–

Jackie Ferguson: Yeah. 

Bob Batchelor: Nike should hold her up. They should make a, there should be a, an Allyson Felix trophy that they give out to great, great women athletes. I mean, this is just some, this is why sports and these things we’ve been talking about, it’s just always so confrontational and controversial because white America holds its black heroes up on a pedestal until they slip an inch. And then the crash is hard. Sometimes they’re retribution, sometimes there’s rebirth, but a lot of times it’s just that person’s gone, and you wait for the next one. And it’s a, it’s a sad state of how people actually feel about race in this country. 

Jackie Ferguson: Yeah. Yeah. Bob, as we start to close our time, what events are you planning to tune in for, for these Olympics? 

Bob Batchelor: Uh, well, you know, I forgot to mention in my intro that I just completed my first month as the director of business intelligence and content strategy at The Diversity Movement.

Jackie Ferguson: Yes. 

Bob Batchelor: And one could argue that my, my bosses have me working so hard that I may not be able to tune into the Olympics at all. But I will definitely be watching many of the track events. I’ll probably tune into, to a bit of the marathon, some of the basketball. I like it less now. I like the Dream Team, but–

Jackie Ferguson:  it’s not the same as the first one.

Bob Batchelor: It’s not the same. You know, and, and for basketball players who grew up when I did or earlier, you, you couldn’t carry the ball when you dribbled. So, it was really a skill to be able to dribble.

Jackie Ferguson: Yeah. 

Bob Batchelor: Now, they’ve changed the rules where you can basically carry the ball, the ball. So everybody is a good dribbler.

Jackie Ferguson: Right. 

Bob Batchelor:  Because it takes less skill. Your hand, I mean, your– most professionals hands are as big as the ball. 

Jackie Ferguson: Yeah. 

Bob Batchelor: So, it’s very easy. And to me, it takes all the fun out of basketball. So I may not even watch that much basketball. But those runners, that’s impressive. 

Jackie Ferguson: Yeah, absolutely. 

Bob Batchelor: So lots of running, probably some swimming. 

Jackie Ferguson: Super excited because for the first time, black women in sports are set to really own the narrative at the Tokyo Olympics. And I’m excited about Simone Biles, Simone Manuel, who’s one of the swimmers, Naomi Osaka, even though she’s repping, you know, Japan. Um, Gabby, Thomas, and, and of course Allyson Felix. So I’m, I’m pretty excited about a few sports this year. 

Bob Batchelor: I will make the one, uh, you know, I am a middle-aged white guy, so I will be interested in watching golf.

Jackie Ferguson: Yeah, yeah. 

Bob Batchelor: I can’t play golf anymore because my back’s so bad, but I dream about it. And the Olympic Golf tournament is so pressure-filled and such a different way for those guys to play golf, that it, it makes it more interesting to watch. 

Jackie Ferguson: Yeah. 

Bob Batchelor: There’s more pressure. And when, when the pressure is upped, it’s just interesting to see how all the Olympic athletes respond.

Jackie Ferguson: Absolutely. 

Bob Batchelor: And I’ll watch the opening game.

Jackie Ferguson: Sure.  

Bob Batchelor: You know, the opening ceremony.

Jackie Ferguson: Those are always fun.  

Bob Batchelor: That’s always interesting. 

Jackie Ferguson: Yeah. For sure. Well, thanks everyone for listening to this live episode of Diversity Beyond the Checkbox. This was a fun episode to do with Dr. Bob Batchelor. Bob, thanks for hanging out with me this morning. And I know we’ve touched on some super controversial things, and you may agree with some of what we said and some of, you know, disagree with some of what we said.

That’s okay. Conversations and sometimes uncomfortable conversations, um, controversial conversations are okay. It’s all part of the process. But Bob, thank you again so much for, for hanging out with me today. 

Bob Batchelor: Sure thing. 

Jackie Ferguson: Yeah. You can find us at, uh, or on LinkedIn. Or learn more about Bob at And that’s Batchelor with a “T.” Uh, if you enjoyed this podcast, look for my other episodes, wherever you listen to your podcasts. And if you really enjoyed it, rate and review it on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or Google. Thanks again for listening. We appreciate it.

Full Episode Transcript

Diversity Beyond the Checkbox is brought to you by The Diversity Movement, hosted by Head of Content Jackie Ferguson, and is a production of Earfluence.

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