For the first time in 13 years softball made its return to the 2021 Tokyo Summer Olympics but it hasn’t gone without a little controversy. The Mexican softball team was called out on social media for allegedly tossing their uniforms in the trash before heading back home, reportedly opting to take the bedspreads from the Olympic Village instead. Many have noted that the team is made up of 14 American players and only one born in Mexico calling it a lack of pride for the country. According to international rules you can play for another nation if you have at least one grandparent with nationality there.
The team finished fourth with a 3-2 loss to Canada in the July 27th bronze-medal game and these Olympics also marked Mexico’s first entry into Olympic softball. Among the critics was amateur boxer from Mexico Brianda Tamara who tweeted “This uniform represents years of efforts, sacrifice, and tears… and the Mexican softball team left them in the trash of the Olympic Village.”
Este uniforme representa años de esfuerzos, sacrificios y lágrimas.
Todos los deportistas mexicanos anhelamos portarlo dignamente, y hoy tristemente el equipo mexicano de sóftbol lo dejó todo en la basura de las villas olímpicas.@esmerfalconmx @CONADE @COM_Mexico pic.twitter.com/zqkmVva6PP
— Brianda Tamara (@BriandaTamara) July 29, 2021
In light of this news team members including pitcher Danielle O’Toole Trejo — former All-American at the University of Arizona — posted apologies and explanations (In English and Spanish) on their Instagrams. She clarified that she didn’t throw away the uniform but did discard some of the lining after being told that the Olympic Village couldn’t ship boxes internationally. “We should have asked more questions, looked into donating, anything except leaving them the way we did and for that I am extremely sorry,” she wrote.
“Wearing Mexico across my chest has been an honor and a privilege,” she added. “I would never throw anything away with malicious intent or to disrespect the country we worked so hard for.”
Yet the act itself stung and many, including myself, felt like the apology fell short. As someone who is Mexican-American it hits deep: we’re often told by Mexicans that we’re not Mexican enough and we’re definitely not American enough to be American. You’ve seen the scene in Selena, we have to be twice as Mexican and twice as American to be enough. When these young women made the decision to leave their uniforms it showed the world that they’re only willing to accept their heritage when it’s convenient to them.
Disappointed of the Mexico Softball team for throwing away their uniforms at the Olympics. As a majority American Mexican team it really shows how folks tend to claim their heritage only when convenient. Que tristeza.
— Edith Almanza Fuerte (@edith_almanza_) July 30, 2021
They’ll temporarily represent Mexico but if they lose or worse, don’t place, they have the luxury to just walk away from it all and go back to their regular lives playing softball at the university level in the U.S. Even though most of us assume the jersey is just a piece of cloth it represents years of hard work and dedication to not only the sport but the country you’re representing.
The public apologies feel kind of convenient after reports of the possibility of being expelled from the sport.The Mexican Softball Federation confirmed through social media that they’re investigating and that if it’s confirmed, these players won’t represent Mexico again.
I’m not as mad as I am disappointed in the way things turned out. The players should do better and this incident could have been flipped into calling out the Mexican Olympic Committee for not giving them enough money to bring back all the things they took (they were only allowed one suitcase). All in all, what I would say to these women is next time, do better.