Women Question Celebrating Gold Medalist Shaun White in Light of Allegations

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February 14, 2018Feb 14, 2018

Shaun White responded on Wednesday to sexual harassment allegations that have resurfaced. These allegations re-emerge ahead of his winning performance in the halfpipe event at the Winter Olympics, located in South Korea. 

Earlier this week, USA Today published a story wondering why in the mist of the #MeToo Movement the past accusations of athletes aren't brought into the open during athletic victories. 

They ask, "Why in the world aren’t we talking about this? In the midst of the #MeToo movement, how has White somehow flown under the radar?"

Shortly after winning his latest career gold medal, a press conference was held where White was asked to address his sexual harassment allegations. These allegations, which first emerged in 2016, accuse White of "repeatedly sexually harassing" his former bandmate and "forcing his authoritarian management style on her for several years." 

According to the Huffington Post, the lawsuit was privately settled last year, but many people — especially those on board with the #MeToo movement — think they should be brought up again regardless.

When asked about the allegations, White responded that he would rather talk about the Olympics rather than "gossip." He was then asked whether the controversy would hurt his legacy. According to White, the controversy shouldn't hurt him. Most of them are false, he says, and the matter has already been settled.

“I don’t think so," he said, when asked whether the accusations will hurt his legacy. "I am who I am and proud of who I am. And my friends love me and vouch for me and I think that stands on its own.” 

USA Today and other media outlets have criticized White for his claim that the allegations are mere "gossip." Instead, they claim that we should "listen to every allegation and go to great lengths to find out what happened, even with an Olympic hero such as White." 

After receiving criticism, White apologized on Wednesday for referring to the allegations as mere gossip. Of course, he didn't concede that they were true, but he did claim that it was a "poor choice of words to describe such a sensitive subject in the world today." 

In the past, White has admitted to sending sexually explicit texts to Zawaideh, a former bandmate, but the athlete has also denied her many other allegations against him, which include inappropriate gestures and requests. In short, White claims that many years ago he shared private texts with a friend who is now using them to craft a "bogus" lawsuit. 

On Tuesday night, Shaun White delivered one of the best runs of his snowboarding career. The athlete finished the Olympics with a score of 97.5, putting him in the first place. He also became the 100th American to win the gold medal at the Olympics.

But recent headlines raise the question: Should White and other athletes have past allegations brought up when they have received the highest honor of their sport? In other words, should headlines focus on Shaun White's accomplishment at the Olympics, or should this be an opportunity to bring up past allegations?

According to Fox News, this very question was debated online. Social media users apparently debated whether White should receive a pass due to his gold medal win, and many believed that too much focus was on the allegations rather than his tremendous achievements. 

These individuals claimed that the allegations were fully covered in 2016 and, as a result, don't need to be brought up again in the midst of White's tremendous achievement.

Other people, however, claimed that it was a failure of the mainstream media to not mention the sexual misconduct allegations against White during their coverage of his victory. 

“White, like many successful and celebrated men, has reached a settlement in a sexual harassment case. Disappointingly, NBC has entirely failed to mention these allegations in its Shaun White,” a tweet stated, according to Fox News.

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