Russia’s invasion of Ukraine penetrating sports    

(News4usonline) – On Feb. 13, Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay was riding high after his team defeated the Cincinnati Bengals 23-20 to win Super Bowl LVI.

Eleven days later, that professional high that McVay was feeling in winning his first Super Bowl, dissipated when Russia invaded Ukraine, launching an unthinkable war against that country.  

The feeling of elation for McVay has now been tempered with measured thoughts of what’s happening overseas. McVay’s buy-in to the Russia-Ukraine situation hits close to home. The connection here is that McVay’s other half, Veronika Khomyn, is from Ukraine. Her family is from Ukraine.

Both Khomyn and McVay talked about the crisis in Ukraine during the Critics Choice Awards on March 13. McVay talked a little more in detail about the situation as he prepared for the NFL combine in a March 2 video call with reporters. McVay said the Russian invasion of Ukraine has given him a different perspective on winning that Super Bowl and what’s really important.   

“I think that perspective is everything because I think about so many things that I get worked up about and then you see real-life examples of what’s it’s like to experience real adversity, what’s it’s like to really unify and show real resilience and toughness, and all the things that you want your team to embody in the midst of real-life experiences and examples,” McVay said.

“As terrible as this thing is going on, there’s been a lot of things that I’ve seen that is inspiring and that do give you a perspective,” McVay added. “Of course, this has had a significant impact.”

June 10, 2021-Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay. Photo credit: Mark Hammond/News4usonline

Being in a leadership role the last five seasons with the Rams has helped him be more cognizant of what other people go through. At least in the sense of lending an emphatic ear, McVay said.  

“I think that a lot of things that have gone on, especially the last couple of years when you’re in a position to be a leader has really been an eye-opening on perspective, whether it’s being more empathetic to different experiences that people go through from a bunch of different backgrounds that maybe I wasn’t exposed to,” McVay said.

McVay continued, “And this represents another opportunity to be able to learn, show empathy and be there for the people that you love and care about unconditionally,” he added. “I think that’s been the hardest part in all of this is that so often when you’re in these positions, you’re tasked with trying to find and solve problems and provide solutions, and sometimes you feel helpless and the only thing can do is be there, continue to pray and trust in the Lord that this will be times that we can work through.”    

The Push to Free Brittney Griner  

For the loved ones of WNBA star Brittney Griner, the hope is that someone can work through on the behalf of the seven-time All-Star to bring her home safely from Russia.

Griner, a star for the Phoenix Mercury here in the United States, plays basketball in the offseason for the Russian Premier League team UMMC Ekaterinburg.

Phoenix Mercury forward/center Brittney Griner looks to make a move against the defense of the Los Angeles Sparks Sunday, July 2015. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman

Griner is now looking at some serious prison time in Russia for allegedly being busted at an airport for having a vape with hashish oil. It has been reported that the move by Russia to detain a high-profile American athlete like Griner is a form of retaliation for the United States-levied economic sanctions against the Eastern European country.    

This is not helping Russia’s image in the eyes of the sports world. Besides the detainment of Griner, the military onslaught by Russia on Ukraine will undoubtedly have longtime negative ramifications on Russian and Belarus athletes.   

Russian athletes have little or next to no empathy from what’s coming down the pipeline from the international sports community following its country’s military invasion of Ukraine.

Athletic Competition Sanctions for Russia

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and its executive board moved swiftly in condemning Russia’s assault on Ukraine, asking all International Sports Federations to relocate or cancel any planned sports events in Russia or Belarus.

On Feb. 28, the IOC came back and announced to ban any and all Russian and Belarus athletes from competing internationally.  

“Wherever this is not possible on short notice for organisational or legal reasons, the IOC EB strongly urges International Sports Federations and organisers of sports events worldwide to do everything in their power to ensure that no athlete or sports official from Russia or Belarus be allowed to take part under the name of Russia or Belarus.

“Russian or Belarusian nationals, be it as individuals or teams, should be accepted only as neutral athletes or neutral teams. No national symbols, colours, flags or anthems should be displayed,” part of the statement read.

Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24. For the past several weeks, the war-like takeover of Ukraine and its residents has brought horror to the rest of the world.

The relentless airstrikes and the hand-to-foot combat efforts by the Russian military, have decimated a country and have sent millions fleeing from their homes in an effort to find safety.

Home now for these folks is rubble and ashes with hospitals being bombed and families dying on the streets for no other reason than a ruthless dictator wanting to satisfy his ego and his thirst for power and the termination of his enemies.

However, there’s steep a price for Russian athletes to pay for these atrocities being committed by Russian President Vladimir Putin and his government as they have not waved in their quest to annihilate Ukraine from the face of the earth.

Economic sanctions imposed by the United States and its allies have hit Russia hard. With respect to the U.S. and its allies, the G7 (Group of Seven) countries, which consists of the United States, Japan, France, Italy, Germany, Canada, and the U.K., dropped more financial penalties on Russia for their unprovoked attack.

“We are united in our determination to hold President Putin and his regime accountable for this unjustified and unprovoked war that has already isolated Russia in the world. The world should join together in calling on President Putin and his regime to immediately stop its ongoing assault against Ukraine and withdraw its military forces. We stand in solidarity with those who are bravely opposing the invasion of Ukraine,” the G7 said in an excerpt of a jointly released statement.  

The statement continues,” We urge Russia to ensure safe and unhindered humanitarian access to victims of its assault in Ukraine, and to allow safe passage for civilians wishing to leave. We call for, and commit to provide, humanitarian, medical and financial support to refugees from Ukraine.”

The World is Watching

So far, Putin and his government are dismissing this plea. The shellacking of one city after another appears to be the only thing that is consuming Putin and his band of mercenaries.

With Putin unrepenting and unyielding in his tribal destruction of Ukraine, the global sports community has stepped to the plate and announced their own brand of sanctions against Russian athletes.

The National Hockey League (NHL) said the league was ending their ties with Russian partners, effective immediately.

“The National Hockey League condemns Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and urges a peaceful resolution as quickly as possible. Effective immediately, we are suspending our relationships with our business partners in Russia and we are pausing our Russian language social and digital media sites. “In addition, we are discontinuing any consideration of Russia as a location for any future competitions involving the NHL.

“We also remain concerned about the well-being of the players from Russia, who play in the NHL on behalf of their NHL clubs, and not on behalf of Russia. We understand they and their families are being placed in an extremely difficult position.”

Sports leagues are not the only entities parting ways with Russia and Belarus. EA (Electronic Arts), the gaming system giant, said it would no longer be distributing its products to either Russia or Belarus.

“We have made the decision to stop sales of our games and content, including virtual currency bundles, in Russia and Belarus while this conflict continues. As a result, our games and content will no longer be available for purchase in our Russian region storefront on Origin or the EA app, including through in-game stores. We are also working with our platform partners to remove our titles from their stores and stop the sale of new in-game content in the region.”

Featured Image: Servicemen of the Emergency service of Ukraine dispose Russian bombs during the battle of Chernihiv, 9 March 2022. In total, the Emergency service in the city worked on 22 requests for bomb disposal this day. The object was identified as remains of incendiary bomb OFZAB-500, which use in areas where civilians are concentrated is expressly prohibited by international law. Photo: State of Emergency Services of Ukraine/Wikimedia Commons