Quinn Simmons twitter black hand suspension after Trek-Segafredo cyclist is accused of being racist & antagonistic over pro Donald Trump tweet. Do sports & politics mix?
Does politics belong in sports? Trek-Segafredo‘s junior road race world champion has apologized after making ‘divisive, incendiary, and detrimental’ statements on Twitter which led to the 19 year old being suspended from the team on Wednesday.
Quinn Simmons’ ouster follows the 2019 world champion posting ‘antagonistic comments’ on social media in support of President Donald Trump in response to a comment made on social media by Dutch cycling journalist, José Been.
Posted Been in a since deleted tweet on Wednesday, ‘My dear American friends, I hope this horrible presidency ends for you. And for us as (former?) allies too.
‘If you follow me and support Trump, you can go. There is zero excuse to follow or vote for the vile, horrible man.’
Simmons replied by writing ‘Bye’ with an emoji of a dark-skinned hand waving.
I like talented young bike racers as much as anyone, but I refused to cheer for anyone who supports a racist, hateful fascist like @QuinnSimmons9 does. I am officially rooting for everyone else. pic.twitter.com/FvYavmNULl
— Peter Flax (@Pflax1) September 30, 2020
His response, deemed racist by some Twitter users, sparked a backlash.
‘I can promise I did not mean for it to be interpreted that way,’ Simmons said.
Adding, ‘I would like to apologize to everyone who found this offensive as I strongly stand against racism in any form.’
Trek-Segafredo said the sporting champion would not race for them ‘until further notice’.
‘Trek-Segafredo is an organization that values inclusivity and supports a more diverse and equitable sport for all athletes. Quinn Simmons was not suspended because of his political views. He was suspended in engaging for engaging in a way that we felt was conduct unbefitting of a Trek athlete. While we support the right to free speech, we will hold people accountable for their words and actions,’ the team said in a statement.’
‘Regrettably, team rider Quinn Simmons made statements online that we feel are divisive, incendiary, and detrimental to the team, professional cycling, its fans, and the positive future we hope to help create for the sport.
‘In response, he will not be racing for Trek-Segafredo until further notice.’
Condemned because use of black hand emoji or because he is an open supporter of Trump?
Later on Thursday, Simmons said: ‘To those who found the color of the emoji racist, I can promise that I did not mean for it to be interpreted that way. I would like to apologise to everyone who found this offensive as I strongly stand against racism in any form.
‘To anyone who disagrees with me politically, that is fine. I won’t hate you for it. I only ask the same.’
Team manager, Luca Guercilena added: ‘We hold all Trek staff and management to a high ethical standard and our athletes are no exception.
‘We believe that Quinn has a bright future as a professional athlete if he can use this opportunity to grow as a person and make a positive contribution for a better future for cycling. We remain committed to helping Quinn as much as we can.’
Following his response to the tweet, Simmons was asked by another Twitter user if he was a ‘Trumper’, to which he replied “that’s right” followed by an emoji of the US flag.
In addition to the suggestion of racism, other Twitter users said they would no longer buy bikes from Trek Bikes, the team’s title sponsor.
Quinn Simmons is free to profess his political beliefs. Equally @TrekSegafredo are free to decide whether those beliefs sit well with a brand whose men’s team wore ‘No To Racism’ masks at the TDF in support of BLM and that also invests significantly in women’s racing.
— Jeremy Whittle (@jeremycwhittle) September 30, 2020
Free to believe but free to be censored by one’s benefactor/employer?
Simmons’ suspension led to social media commentators questioning the biking outlier’s decision, with some users applauding the cyclist’s preference for Trump, or at least supporting his right to express his views without suspension.
Even Been, who is white, deleted her original post and wrote Thursday that she feels ‘horrible about the situation and terrible for (at)QuinnSimmons9 to miss his beloved classics.’
‘To suspend him would never be my choice,’ she added.
Responding to the suspension, one social media who acknowledged being a huge fan of Simmons’ writing that going forward it would be best for Simmons to keep his personal views to himself.
Posted the user, ‘It’s truly best to stay quiet about conservative political views. They don’t call us the “silent majority” for nothing. Stay strong, stay quiet, and let the legs do the talking.’
Others felt both Simmons and the team were justified in their actions.
‘Quinn Simmons is free to profess his political beliefs,’ Guardian Tour de France correspondent Jeremy Whittle tweeted. ‘Equally @TrekSegafredo are free to decide whether those beliefs sit well with a brand whose men’s team wore “No To Racism” masks at the TDF in support of BLM and that also invests significantly in women’s racing.’
Joe Papp, a self-proclaimed anti-doping advocate and author, accused Simmons of engaging in ‘internet blackface’ for his use a dark-skinned hand emoji on Twitter.
Cycling enthusiast John Galloway defended Simmons’s position to a point, writing that he would not ‘cancel’ the young cyclist over his comments.
When Simmons responded by writing ‘Thank you!’ on Twitter, Galloway snapped back: ‘Don’t thank me. I think you’re a d***. Just entitled to your stupid f***ing opinion.’
Another cycling enthusiast simply responded: ‘Cheering against Quinn Simmons forever.’