An internet troll chose the wrong athletes to pick on last week.
Arnold Schwarzenegger turned an offensive Facebook comment about the Special Olympics, a program that he has for decades had a personal interest in, into a “teachable moment.”
The comment came in response to a video the former bodybuilding champion posted Thursday on his page congratulating the winners of the Special Olympics World Games held earlier this week in Austria, the country Schwarzenegger hails from.
The former bodybuilder and governor of California has long been involved in Special Olympics, the program founded by the late Eunice Kennedy Shriver, partly because of his marriage to her daughter, Maria. So it was no surprise that he’d post a positive message after the competition ended.
The actor appears in the video, which features the text, “These guys inspire me!”
The video has attracted more than 400,000 views and drawn hundreds of comments, but not all of them were kind. One, in particular, referred to Special Olympians using a derogatory term and questioned the need for the Special Olympics at all.
“The Olympics are for the best athletes in the entire world to compete against each other to determine who is the best,” the individual wrote. “Having r—–s competing is doing the opposite!”
Schwarzenegger posted his response just hours later, noting, “As evil and stupid as this comment is, I’m not going to delete it or ban you (yet) because it’s a teachable moment.”
“You have two possible paths ahead. Right now, I guarantee you that these athletes have more courage, compassion, brains and skill — actually more of every positive human quality than you.
“So take their path — you could learn from them, and try to challenge yourself, to give back, to add something to the world. Or you can stay on your path, and keep being a sad pitiful jealous Internet troll who adds nothing to the world but mocks anyone who does out of small-minded jealousy.
“I know that all you really want is attention, so let me be clear. If you choose to keep going this way, no one will ever remember you.”
Special Olympics is getting an elevated profile, thanks to expanded coverage by ABC and ESPN in the first year of a three-year rights deal. For years, as Sports Business Journal’s Ben Fischer writes, coverage was a charitable endeavor. Now, thanks to the success of Invictus Games and Paralympics coverage, it’s a business expected to produce even if its higher profile invites mean commentary.
“The concept of athletes with differences was starting to resonate in our shop, and we thought expanding that to athletes with intellectual disabilities was a natural next step,” Russell Wolff, ESPN International executive vice president, told SBJ. “And I think we found we were right.”
Schwarzenegger’s powerful voice helps with recognition and acceptance, too. He’ll turn 70 this summer and he has increasingly been using social media to fire back at critics, even when one is the president of the United States. He showed no reluctance to mix it up with President Trump, who in January blamed Schwarzenegger for the low ratings of “The New Celebrity Apprentice,” the latest version of reality show franchise originated by Trump.
“Wow, the ratings are in and Arnold Schwarzenegger got ‘swamped’ (or destroyed) by comparison to the ratings machine, DJT,” Trump said in a tweet posted Jan. 6
This week, Schwarzenegger offered up a response.
“Donald, the ratings are in, and you got swamped,” Schwarzenegger, who did not support Trump in the election last year, said in a video.
Schwarzenegger was referring to Trump’s sinking approval ratings, which had hit just 37 percent last weekend according to a Gallup poll.