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Bruce St. James and Pamela Hughes

The real problem with the Olympics

The stories about Russia’s bungling of basic infrastructure at the Sochi Games are available for the world to see. It’s obvious to most people the only reason the world is holding a Winter Olympics in a reasonably warm seaside village is money and politics. And a few well-placed threats probably didn’t hurt.

But my bigger issue with the Olympics transcend the obvious shortcomings, and get more to the root of what is wrong with the modern Olympics. Where do I start? …

• There was a time, and I think it wasn’t THAT long ago, when people toiled away at obscure sports for the honor of wearing their country’s uniform and proudly standing on the podium as their national anthem played.

How cute that sounds nowadays when professional and semiprofessional athletes pick and choose whether to participate based on their vacation schedules, and once on the Olympic team, pick and choose which events to compete on based on how it impacts their “brand.”

A certain performer dropped out of an event citing safety concerns, when it’s clear this was a business decision, based on long-term earnings and image. How sad that competing for your country has become an afterthought, but competing for EA Sports or a shoe company is perfectly acceptable. I’m OK with the Olympics being all about money, just stop lying to me that it’s about anything else.

• And what the heck is slopestyle anyway? Is jumping snowmobiles next? Why not NASCAR? It strikes me that we are inventing sports that we seem to be good at in order to guarantee victories.

The Olympics are not the X Games and should stop trying to compete for a younger audience. It comes off like the guy just a bit too old to be hanging out in the night club wearing an Affliction T-shirt. You’re trying too hard.

• It used to be every four years I was forced to listen to improper English, now I’m subjected to it every two. Of course, I’m talking about the Olympic phenomena of bestowing the term “winner” on people who have obvious just lost at something. You WIN the gold, everything else is given to you.

How a person can win the bronze is beyond me and is an affront to the very nature of competing. Did the Broncos “win” second place in the NFL? Are the Suns “winning” sixth place in the NBA Western Conference? Of course not. It’s silly to think the first loser (second place) is anything other than the person who DIDN’T win. Celebrate the champion and let the losers sulk in the corner.

Other than that, I suppose the Olympics are OK. Now, I gotta get back to the Finland vs. Korea women’s ice hockey game. I’ve got money riding on this!


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