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Jocelyne Larocque removed her silver medal after losing to USA, and it’s understandable

Piling on makes no sense.

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Jocelyne Larocque is being widely criticized after the Canadian defender removed her silver medal following a loss to USA.

Larocque is being branded as “unsportsmanlike,” for not wearing her medal — eventually being forced to by Canadian Olympic officials who told Larocque she couldn’t hide her medal for legal reasons. Crushed, she was barely able to answer questions post-game, devastated after the loss. When asked why she didn’t wear the silver she managed only a short response.

“Just hard,” she said. “We were going for gold.”

This is the odd dichotomy of team sports at the Olympic games. You win gold if you win your final game, the same can be said of bronze — silver is the only medal given to a team that loses. It’s a well-earned reward for playing through group stages and the semi-final, but ultimately you’re the only athletes asked to stand on a podium just following a loss.

USA’s coach didn’t take any shots at Larocque.

“I definitely understand it,” U.S. coach Robb Stauber said. “It’s a very heated rivalry.”

Larocque won gold in Sochi when Canada beat USA, but this loss hurts all the same. There’s no right or wrong way to handle defeat, and nobody prepares you to lose in sports. By all accounts Larocque shook hands with USA following the game.

We typically celebrate fiery competitors who leave everything on the field, court or ice. So before piling on and pontificating “sportsmanship,” maybe just give Jocelyne Larocque a bit of time to be upset.