Disclaimer: This article may contain the personal views and opinions of the author.
There are a few different ways to view the Brittney Griner situation.
Some think of her as a hero. Some view her as an American-hating basketball player who refused to stand for the National Anthem.
Others view her as a criminal who broke the law in a foreign country and should have had to suffer the consequences.
No matter your feelings about Griner, the fact that she was named ‘Arizonan of the Year’ is a little puzzling.
What did she do to deserve an award that was given to a selfless person like Pat Tillman in 2004?
Tillman was a professional football player who left his NFL career to enlist in the U.S. Army following the September 11 attacks on our country.
He served in Iraq and Afghanistan ultimately giving his life for his country.
What did Griner do in comparison? She broke the law in a foreign country.
The Biden administration cut a deal with Russia to get her back. The deal included releasing the “merchant of death” from U.S. custody.
The Arizona Republic, a Gannett Company, awarded Griner with the honor, saying, “Today we name Brittney Griner ‘Arizonan of the Year’ because no other Arizona newsmaker in 2022 captured the public eye as intensely as she did, nor has anyone’s story in this state aroused the kind of fear and foreboding that hers had for nearly 300 days.”
The editorial board went on to say, “Many have argued that Griner had no one to blame but herself for her predicament – that she broke Russian law and now would pay the consequences.
“Those people fail to understand the essential nature of Vladimir Putin and the Russian justice system.
“If the Russians were taking one of the world’s great athletes prisoner a week before their invasion, we think that wasn’t likely a coincidence.
“When the Russians announced the bazaar is open and Griner could be had for a price, well, there’s a name for that kind of behavior. We call it hostage-taking.
“…Some conservatives remembered that Griner had called on her own Phoenix Mercury team in 2020 to stop playing the national anthem.
“We would remind those critics that she did that during a cultural awakening in which African Americans were drawing attention not only to the modern mistreatment of their people but the atrocities committed over centuries against them.
“It goes without saying that the African American experience is different than the European American experience, and if Black people have used their American birthright to protest racism, they have done so to make this country better and more worthy of its founding ideals.
“We would have encouraged her to take her new freedom and use it to help draw attention to other American hostages in Russia, including Paul Whelan and Marc Fogel.
“But such is her character, she had already begun doing that in her correspondence to President Joe Biden while still a prisoner in Russia.”
While many don’t agree with the decision, we can hope that Griner will stick to her pledge to use her platform to help bring the other Americans imprisoned in Russia back home.