Olympics? Dead to me.

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.

6 thoughts on “Olympics? Dead to me.”

  1. My understanding of the Olympics is that it should be a gathering of athletes from around the world, putting politics and international differences aside. I can’t find anything on Wikipedia to back that up though.

    Along those lines though, in an effort to keep politics out of the games, the IOC will not recognize the Iraqi Olympic committee because it was appointed by the government. The entire Iraqi committee that had organized the 2004 event was kidnapped several years ago and have not been heard from since. Rather than following all the rules, the government appointed a new committee. This was seen as the government interfering with the process and as a result there will be no representation from Iraq at the games this time. (All of this is based on an NPR story I heard on Friday)

    As for the games, I like to watch them when I have the time, but unfortunately the sports that are played at the Games are not the ones that I have extreme interest in. Olympic soccer is interesting, but it pales next to the World Cup. There is no Olympic Football. As for basketball, I really don’t have that much interest in watching our multi-millionaire players a) dominate the game because they’re so much bigger than the rest of the competition or b) get schooled by teams of players who know the fundamentals of the game (i.e. how to shoot rather than just dunking all the time)

    I’m interested and I’m excited that it’s coming… but in the end I probably will watch very little. The things that China has done to make the games go well (restricting car usage to even/odd days to reduce smog) are disturbing and I would hope that some of that is highlighted in the coverage. We’ll just have to wait and see.

  2. The following was taken from olympic.org (The International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) website).

    According to the Olympic Charter, established by Pierre de Coubertin, the goal of the Olympic Movement is to contribute to building a peaceful and better world by educating youth through sport practised without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.

    Rick: Your understanding of the Olympics is pretty much spot on.

    Here are my three biggest beefs with the Olympics:

    Everything boils down to money. This starts at the highest level, the IOC, and boils down into the Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games (OCOG) and the National Olympic Committees (NOC).

    The IOC has it easy, they decide where the games go, they sign the TOP (Top Olympic Program, if memory serves correctly) sponsors (TOP sponsors are worldwide sponsors, they have the most freedom for advertising and pull with the IOC/OCOG). They throw a great party.

    The OCOG which always goes by a different acronym (Beijing is BOCOG (Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games), Vancouver is VANOC (Vancouver Organizing Committee)). The OCOG has it easy as well. They are the one hosting the shindig. They’re the reason the venues are getting built. They also sign on sponsors, which, for the life of me, I cannot remember the technical term. Basically, they’re local sponsors, and can, pretty much, only advertise locally. They generally are electric companies, telecom companies, but you may see other companies wanting to get in on the action without ponying up the big money for a TOP sponsorship.

    The NOCs vary greatly, as I’m sure you can imagine. The USOC has a lot easier time pulling in money than the Ethiopian NOC, etc. If a NOC has a person with a good human interest story and they know how to market it, they may be able to bring in some additional money.

    Gone are the days of bringing peace and harmony to the games. Get with the times, we can buy peace and harmony!

    The Olympics are big business. They pretend to be about peace & harmony, when, in reality, it’s about NBC paying the IOC 2,201,000,000USD for the rights to broadcast the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver and the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London.

    Politics: The IOC has tried to use the Olympics as a political statement. They try to improve areas that need improving. The problem with this is, the IOC decides where the games are going to go and hands off the torch to the OCOG. Sure the IOC & OCOG have meetings, but they are generally to make sure everything is on schedule.

    Let’s analyze the Beijing torch run, for instance: Nepal authorizes deadly force to stop Olympic torch protests (espn.com). Now let’s re-analyze how this fits in with the “Olympic Movement”. Does deadly force “…contribute to building peaceful and better world by educating…”?
    So why did this happen? The IOC does not plan the torch run, the OCOG does. Probably what happened was the IOC & BOCOG were fed up with the delays and negative press around the torch run. If I was able to bet, I’d bet that they knew about this deadly force thing before it hit the press. They had every chance to say, “No!” to the Nepalese, but they didn’t. They were probably thinking, “If we can have a successful run around Mount Everest, it’ll be great!” And even when the story hit the press, they made no effort to try pressure the Nepalese into backing off the deadly force bit.
    Finally, I was concentrating on the first two issues so much that I forgot what my third beef was. But, if I remember it, I’ll come back and make another comment

    I’m sorry Monsieur Pierre de Coubertin, it is apparent that the IOC has used deadly force on your movement.

  3. The other thing that bothers me is the local recession following the games. The Olympics is a huge boon to the economy…until they are over with. A lot of jobs are created. New roads are being built with new jobs. New venues are being built with new jobs. It takes people to run the Olympics. Several thousand, as a matter of fact. So after the Olympics are over, a lot of people are out of jobs. And then the after the Paralympics are over, rought 90-95% of the OCOG is without a job. You also have all of those other people who were working indirectly for the games that don’t have a job, because the roads are great and nobody can afford construction when you don’t have a job. I know in 2002, SLOC (Salt Lake Organizing Committee) worked hard to make sure people had jobs, but not every OCOG is this way.

Comments are closed.