Kim Rhode Speaks Out About Sport Stigma, Gun Control

Kim Rhode Speaks Out About Sport Stigma, Gun Control
photo from usmagazine.comweb photo

Yesterday we ran a story about a full-page ad the National Shooting Sport Foundation placed in USA Today earlier this month, highlighting the three U.S. Olympic shooters who won gold in Rio this year. One of the trio was Kim Rhode, who tied a lofty record for the most consecutive medals ever won in back-to-back Olympics at six.

This story from the Daily Signal confirms that Rhode's Olympic story won't end there. The shooter, who started her Olympic career at the 1996 Games in Atlanta when she was 17, has announced plans to compete in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, where she could make history as the first Olympic athlete, male or female, to ever medal in seven straight Olympic Games (that includes both the Summer and Winter Games).

But even with all these world records and accomplishments, Rhode still doesn’t expect to land a big sponsor, the story says, because there’s too much of a stigma attached to her sport.

“Rhode says she doesn’t hold a grudge, but also can’t explain why more Americans aren’t interested in hearing her story.

“In London, for example, Rhode didn’t realize that she was pregnant when she won gold. When asked why the media didn’t jump to tell her story the way they did when Olympic volleyball player Kerri Walsh Jennings announced she won gold while pregnant, Rhode said:

‘I can’t really say why people do or choose one story over another, but I was pregnant in London, and I did have a very, very challenging pregnancy. I’m still recovering from that, so I wasn’t 100 percent going into this Olympics. I definitely think it’s a good story.’”

Rhode said in the story she knows her story is controversial, and doesn't shy away from talking about her politics as a proud member of the NRA and a supporter of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump (and all the additional controversy that invites).

“When you look at the gun debate and the Olympics, there definitely is that stigmatism that’s attached to our sport due to all the negative publicity that guns get,” she said in the story.

Rhode says there’s so much more to her sport that isn’t talked about, and that a lot of it is in danger of vanishing.

“Shooting is actually very family-oriented,” she said in the story, adding that she fears the shooting sports could soon be dead because gun control legislation is “killing our sport.”

“Unfortunately I think people have a hard time separating the fact that we are just a sport—that we teach responsibility, discipline, and focus, and we train really hard like all the other athletes.”

“I jokingly say that all sports matter. Not just shooting or beach volleyball. Every sport is unique and can bring something to the table and that’s really what the Olympics are about—showcasing all the different sports and the amazing talent from all over the world.”

“I think the misconceptions people have of the sport is that shooting is actually very family-oriented. It’s not a sport where you can take your kid and drop him off, and let somebody else spend the time with them. It’s actually a sport that your mother and father and your family has to be very involved in—in teaching responsibility and discipline and focus. It’s very, very family-oriented. You see fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, and mothers and sons out there—whole families shooting together. And I think that’s something that is really wonderful about the sport. It’s also great too that it doesn’t matter your size or your stature. So men and women can truly compete on an equal playing field.”

“The fact that the government would even consider repealing or taking away the Second Amendment is basically the very reason for which it was written. So for me, that is an issue in itself. The [phrase] “right to bear arms,” it’s a right and the right shouldn’t be something voted on. It’s a right.”