For many fans of the Olympics, the gathering of the nations' athletes to pit their skills and grit against each other is about just that. But for others, the world's biggest sporting event is more about pushing a political/social agenda than anything else.
That's particularly evident with CNN host W. Kamau Bell, star of the "United Shades of America" television show. In an editorial piece written shortly before the opening ceremonies, he gave strong advice on how a particular American athlete can promote Islam at the Olympics.
Which athlete? Gold medalist superstar swimmer Michael Phelps.
In an open letter to Phelps, Bell thanked the Olympics' most decorated athlete for his decision to give up his honor of being the flag bearer for the U.S. team and hand it to the second-place selection instead. Phelps had not made that decision, but Bell figured he would after the guilt trip he was about to give him.
Who was the second-place selection by voters? Muslim fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, who Hillary Clinton praised today in a tweet for being the first American woman to compete in a hijab at the Olympics.
In his open letter, Bell argues to Phelps that he doesn't need anymore honor but rather should do something to heal his hateful homeland.
Bell writes, "I would be proud of you for giving up your position to Ibtihaj Muhammad. Muhammad carrying the flag would be much bigger than your one moment. It would be a symbol for our country in this moment when we are mostly known for one of the most contentious, controversial, scandal-ridden, hateful, xenophobic, jingoistic, and just generally unlikeable presidential elections in recent memory. This is at a time when we could use some more symbols of unity and togetherness."
He continued, "Muhammad carrying the flag would be nearly a one-stop inclusion shop. Muhammad is an African-American, hijab-wearing Muslim woman who is also a world class fencer. Those are all groups that could always use some more love, acceptance, and respect from this country."
Bell added that it would be "another important symbol of American attempting to bury its hatred of 'the other.'"
He concluded with one more attempt at making Phelps feel guilty, writing, "No offense, but right now America has enough tall, successful, rich white guys hogging the spotlight trying to make America great ... again."
Much to Bell's dismay, Phelps did not end up complying with his wishes at the opening ceremony.