By David Z. Morris
February 10, 2018

Fox News has deleted an op-ed column in which the outlet’s Executive Vice President argued that the diversity of the U.S. Olympic Team would weaken its competitive prospects. Instead of a team that is “Faster, Higher, Stronger,” the column argued that the U.S. Olympic Committee now wants a team that is “Darker, Gayer, Different.”

In the Wednesday piece, Fox News Executive Editor and Executive Vice President John Moody took aim at U.S. Olympic Committee statements celebrating the diversity of this year’s Winter Olympics team. Winter Olympics teams have long been less representative of the U.S. population than summer teams.

In his column, Moody described this sentiment as “embarrassing,” and strongly implied that the selection of team members must have been influenced by representational politics rather than athletic skill. Moody criticized an insistence that “sports bow to political correctness by assigning teams quotas for race, religion or sexuality.” While the USOC does track inclusivity and set benchmarks for certain sports, those goals are pursued through leadership and accessibility initiatives, rather than by making individuals’ identities part of the team selection process.

 

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It’s highly unusual for any news outlet to pull an op-ed piece, no matter how controversial, and Moody’s criticism of a policy that simply doesn’t exist may have helped earn him that rare distinction. In a statement, Fox News has said the column, despite being written by one of its highest-ranking executives, does not reflect the organization’s values. The column can still be accessed in archived form.

Moody’s core thesis – that diversity means trading performance for representation – badly distorts the purpose and impact of pro-diversity efforts. In both sports and business, leaders are motivated to remove cultural barriers in hopes of ensuring that high performing individuals are placed in roles where they can shine, regardless of race, religion, or gender. Research from McKinsey – hardly a bastion of bleeding-heart progressivism – has shown that public companies with high levels of racial and gender diversity financially outperform those with low diversity. By the same token, USOC officials have said that fostering diversity across sports is “a strategy to be successful” because it encourages a broader range of individuals to pursue those sports, potentially increasing their available talent pool and, in turn, team performance.

Professional MLB and NBA teams are, of course, extremely racially diverse, and American teams have performed extremely well in those sports at the Olympics historically. That makes it all the more confounding that Moody’s column cited Jackie Robinson, whose immense talent helped him not only break the color line in baseball but win MVP awards and a World Series ring, as evidence that encouraging diversity somehow hampers America’s quest for gold in PyeongChang.

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