Hammon Decision to Play for Russia Shakes Up Olympic Philosophy

She's the All-American girl and she's playing for Russia.

Becky Hammon has found herself at the center of a debate over whether Americans should be allowed to play for foreign Olympic teams. She was born in South Dakota, has no Russian ancestry and she plays for the San Antonio Stars in the WNBA.
Becky Hammon plays for the San Antonio Stars.
In the off-season Hammon plays for CSKA Moscow, Russian women's basketball team. She became a naturalized Russian citizen in late 2007. Hammon says she wanted to play for Team USA, but they never reached out to her or really even gave her much attention, so she went with Russia.

Now she's being called a traitor by some and worse by others, but to me the more interesting side of this is the prospect of Olympic teams playing with foreign players. I mean, how many foreign players can you have on a team before it's no longer Russian?

The Olympics are one of humanity's one last bastions of unabashed nationalism that is absolutely condoned and accepted by pretty much everyone without any fear of being accused of xenophobia.

It's like World Cup but more encompassing. It's like world war, but no one is trying to kill each other. It's the Olympics and patriotism is the name of the game.

Now one American on the Russian team might not seem so bad, but what happens if in four years the team adds three more Americans to the starting line-up? When Russia plays U.S.A. is it still Russia vs. U.S.A. if it's really two different American teams throwing down?

If the shot callers for the Olympics want to prevent such scenarios, new rules will have to be put in place. Birth requirements would likely be the norm and yet more restrictions will be placed on Olympic athletes. Otherwise every country can just naturalize anyone willing to play for them and the Olympics could become not a clash of patriotic athletes, but a feud between rogue runners, traitorous track stars and mercenary gymnasts.

And if things come to that,

what's the point in even keeping the Olympics around at all?
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