It would be tempting to say my anti-Olympic rants are driven by my continued dislike and suspicion of the Ruskies, and while there is some merit in that it does not tell the whole truth. Almost daily we hear of another story that puts the fate of the Sochi Olympics into question. Corruption, terrorism, homophobia. I’m assuming a locust infestation at some point.
But I want to make an argument for consistency. I think the Olympics in general have run their course. What was once a great gathering of nations showcasing their best amateur athletes, has turned into something quite different.
• Desperately poor countries spend billions on stadiums, venues and construction that do nothing to put food on the table of its citizens or educate its children.
• The games are increasingly being held in countries or regions struggling to enter the “first world” but are decidedly not ready for a global stage. As opposed to cities prepared to host an event of this scale, cities are being built in the middle of nowhere to drive economic development and tourism … or something absurd like that.
• What for decades was an apolitical event, has turned decidedly political, with the Games being used to show one race, religion or nationalities “superiority” over others to the point that countries recruit athletes for citizenship and pay them to bring home the gold!
• Heck, they started allowing professional athletes to compete because nations got sick of losing at their national sport because of a lack of non-paid participants.
• And the entire selling of the games can be condensed into a desperate attempt to find the “moment,” captured on film, that allows the corporate sponsors to cash in on an athlete “achieving victory despite (choose one: injury, upbringing, personal loss, etc) and becoming America’s sweetheart to better sell us cereal or soda pop.
I stopped paying attention years ago to this quadrennial marketing/political circus masquerading as an amateur athletic event a while ago. By the looks of ticket sales and TV viewers, a few more are coming around to my way of thinking.
I know it’s hard to say goodbye to something that’s been around for so long, but the Olympics as you know them (or wish them to be) died a long time ago and we are just going through the motions.