Keli Price and Greg Louganis on the ‘On Thin Ice’ documentary, inequality in sports

Athletes talk about the struggle and sacrifices behind their achievements in a new doc. TheGrio sits down with the director and an Olympic champion

Keli Price’s latest documentary, On Thin Ice, covers multiple stories on athletes who have had to overcome social conflict in order to master their passion on the field.

Calling attention to “to athletes who have struggled for acceptance due to race, religion, sexual orientation, and other prejudices,” the film is described as a testament to Price’s great-grandfather and “to the abiding spirit that sport can and should advance greater understanding of ourselves and each other.”

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Price and Olympic diver Greg Louganis sat down with theGrio for an exclusive interview about the documentary. They opened up about the inspiration for the film, their own personal histories, and why 2021 is the perfect time for a film like this to be released.

Premiere For RLJ Entertainment's "Sleep No More"
Actor Keli Price during the Premiere For RLJ Entertainment’s “Sleep No More” on August 20, 2018 in Brooklyn City. (Photo by Gonzalo Marroquin/Getty Images for Incendiary Features )

Price initially drew inspiration for the documentary from his great-grandfather, Jack Brooks, who “was denied his rightful spot in the Olympics because he was an immigrant Jew,” he tells theGrio. He details, “…really investigating in that time and knowing that there were issues with anti-Semitism, et cetera, during the 1930s, which everybody kind of knew. But today I had no idea.” 

Price, of course, is referring to the social climate we are in now, and how sports still has a long way to go in terms of equality.

“I think it was so important to tell the story now in this climate, because it’s still happening today, especially right now.”

Athletes really started to come out of the closet in 2013, Price says, and “before that there was a lot of fear based on ownership and the fans that they wouldn’t be accepted.” 

Between the tide changing in terms of coming out in sports, and athletes such as Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the national anthem to speak out against racial injustice and police brutality, Price knew the film was needed now more than ever.

He explained, “This all started happening during post-production of the film. And I was like, wow, this is just confirming the fact that this movie needs to come out.”

Greg Louganis, an Olympic diving icon who dealt with his own struggles being a gay Olympian in the 80s and 90s, also shed some light on the power of the documentary.

He told theGrio, “I was one of the first athletes to come out gay and HIV positive and all that. You know, I was kind of blazing a trail for the younger athletes behind me. But, whether you’re dealing with race, sexual identity, or any of those marginalized groups, it’s important that the athlete’s voices are heard and also that they’re seen.” 

Price sees a link between Louganis and athletes like Michael Sam, the Black college football player who came out as gay in 2014. He explained, “I definitely saw a common thread between Greg Louganis, Robbie Rogers, Michael Sam. They all had that fear of kind of coming out. But after doing it, they were just completely their authentic selves.”

2014 NFL Combine
Former Missouri defensive lineman Michael Sam speaks to the media during the 2014 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 22, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Both Price and Louganis believe in the importance of people telling their authentic stories. Louganis explained, “It’s important for our youth to know the history because a lot of those trailblazers are, you know, they die penniless or they’re forgotten. And so it’s important that we remember those who came before us.”

Read More: Michael Sam: I experienced more racism in gay community than homophobia in black community

Price echoed Louganis’ statement, and said, “I just think it’s important for us just to all come together, accept each other for our differences and sports. It’s an incredible place to watch people grow and excel at their craft.”

The film is available on Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, YouTube Movies, Cable and Satellite On Demand.

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