Coach Rob Williams Offers Affirmation to '72 U.S. Olympics Team

The 1972 U.S. Olympic men's basketball team refuses to claim its Silver Medals-a move that Coach Rob Williams calls inspiring.

On the surface, sports may seem like a relatively clear-cut endeavor, as in any sporting event, there ends up being a winner or a loser, with little room for disagreement or dissent. Anyone who has followed a particular sport for long knows that, in reality, things are not always so cut-and-dry, and that sometimes the outcome of a game can be deeply controversial. A case in point is the famously contested men's basketball championship game, from the 1972 Olympics. The game remains mired in controversy even to this day, and in the wake of the 2012 Olympics, it is once again in the news-for reasons that one coach, Coach Rob Williams, says are truly inspiring.

The Philadelphia Inquirer recently reported that the 1972 team reunited, reaffirming its longstanding decision not to accept the silver medals it was awarded after the controversial game. The original match-in which a series of dubious calls led to the final three seconds of the game being re-played multiple times, eventually ending in a one-point lead for the Russian team-was initially met with an eruption of protest from U.S. basketball fans. The team declined its medals and remains steadfast in its decision.

Some of the members of the team spoke with the Inquirer, expressing how resolute they remain in their protest. Kenny Davis has stipulated in his will that no member of his family can ever accept a silver medal on his behalf. This may seem extreme to some, but to Coach Rob Williams-a long-time educator and basketball coach-it is profoundly admirable. Williams has responded to the Inquirer story with a press statement, offering his support to the team in their decision.

"The controversy over the actual game aside, this is, without question, an inspiring move for these tremendous ball players to make," says Coach Rob Williams. "This is a case where there is more than just a mark in the 'W' column at stake. This is about convictions, and these guys are sticking to theirs."

Williams goes on to say that he hopes young people, particularly young athletes, pay attention to the example this historic team is setting. "What the team is showing here is real pride, in something that matters," says the coach. "They are unwilling to compromise their integrity, even for a piece of Olympic silver, and I think that is the kind of integrity that young people can benefit from witnessing."

The Inquirer story notes that the match is currently being contested, with some members of the team hoping to see the Russian team stripped of its gold, or for the Americans to be given duplicate gold medals.


Coach Rob Williams is an athletic enthusiast and educator with years of experience coaching boys' and men's basketball at many different competitive levels. In addition to his work as a coach, Williams has taught Physical Education, and also served as a substitute teacher and a high school guidance counselor. Coach Williams is passionate about the positive impact that sports can have on the lives of young people.