For a guy who dislikes political protests in sports, Vice President Mike Pence sure does like to do political protests in sports a lot.
Back in October, when the NFL player protests during the national anthem were at fever pitch, Pence left the game between the Indianapolis Colts and San Francisco 49ers following the anthem in his own form of protest. The speed in which Pence, President Trump, and the White House responded gave credence to the notion that the entire thing was a pre-planned political stunt during a sporting event, exactly the kind of thing that they had been publicly decrying for weeks.
I left today's Colts game because @POTUS and I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem.
— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) October 8, 2017
Here’s how The Comeback’s Jay Rigdon put it at the time:
To recap, the President sent the Vice President to a football game featuring the 49ers, a team that would definitely be protesting during the anthem, and then launched a plan to literally grandstand (there were bleachers and everything) with a huffy exit. All to ostensibly score political points by purposefully and willfully misinterpreting the protests of the athletes in question.
Fast-forward to Friday when the opening ceremonies of the 2018 Winter Olympics in took place in PyeongChang. There had been much made of the fact that athletes from South Korea and North Korea, long enemies in a cold (and sometimes hot) war, entered the arena together to signify in the importance of setting aside political issues in order to highlight the athletic and competitive integrity of the Olympics.
As someone who has railed against NFL players and other athletes for refusing to stand for the national anthem as part of a protest, you would imagine Pence would make sure he’s standing to greet these Olympic athletes who were there not as representatives of their respective governments but as athletes competing under Olympic ideals.
As has happened so many times under the current administration, what they say and what they do are two very different things.
This was the scene in the VIP box as the joint Korean team walked into the stadium. Everyone stood for the host country apart from Mike Pence and Shinzo Abe. Any reason? (Pic from Blue House footage) pic.twitter.com/LPXM6XEarz
— Laura Bicker (@BBCLBicker) February 9, 2018
As you might imagine, people were quick to notice that Pence was doing what he has said NFL players do (which, is a whole other story because they weren’t protesting the anthem itself and… you know what… let’s not even get into it).
I thought there was no place in sports for protest?
— Mark Deska (@MDeskaTTU) February 9, 2018
You could almost say they refused to stand, in protest. ?
— L. Benet Stephenson (@laurenbenet) February 9, 2018
We look forward to the friendly discourse that will surely follow from here.