As a kid, I loved the Olympics. I think this has to do with the fact that I’m old enough to remember 1984 [and the navy blue XXIII Olympiad duffel bag Dad got me while on TDY to California; bet he doesn’t remember getting that until I bring it up], and probably has something to do with the fact that we were nearly in Seoul for 1988. I guess it also has to do with the fact that I grew up in a time when the Olympics really were a big deal and sports on TV was pretty limited because overall television channel choice was limited.
Fast forward to now, 2008. After having a friend who worked for SLC and Athens and enjoying hearing his stories about them, I’ve … waned. I didn’t pay much attention to Torino, but then I never found myself caring that much about the Winter Olympics. And now, Beijing. I can’t get behind the 2008 Olympics at all. China’s human rights record, pollution record, and political differences make it impossible for me to stomach. No, I don’t think the US should boycott the Games—the folks who compete spend their lives getting ready for it, and they should have that stage. I’m caught up in the stories of Michael Phelps and Dara Torres as much as the next person, but man … the thought of supporting the Chinese government by watching the Games just turns my stomach.
So I’m not watching.
I don’t think China’s purely evil, nor do I think they’re not totally useful—they’re a powerful economy, and they promise to be the only true competitor to NASA going forward. [And honestly, it’s the lack of competition that’s stifled NASA for the last two decades.] But none of that means I’m going to sit there and watch the Chinese pat themselves on the back for being awesome—it disgusts me most of the time when we Americans do it, and I certainly won’t enjoy seeing the Chinese do the same.
I wish them a safe, competitive, successful Games. I also wish that the world’s media will focus on all the wrongs and ills going on in China as well.