And the Olympics are over for another four years. Eric Idle sang “Life’s a piece of shit” in front of the world and Wonderwall was sung by the most bored-looking bunch of musicians I’ve ever seen, and Posh Spice rode, terrified, around the arena on the top of a cab, and then we’re done.
And in another way the games have just started up again. In the paper this morning, the Melbourne headlines roared “Massive push for 2024 games!” With the immediate response being: “Sorry, no way. We’re not interested.” by the Australian Olympic Committee.
Oh, I don’t care! In 12 years, my stepdaughter will be at uni and my actual son/daughter could be starting high school and nothing is less important to me than whether we host another money-sucking, elitist sporting competition.
I’m being subjective, instead of objective. I should just report, and let you make up your own minds.
On a completely different topic, I took my students to a debate last week (they won – in the finals, woo!). The topic was that London 2012 should be the last Olympic Games.
Sorry, this is less than subtle.
The main points, completely uncontested by my boys, were these:
1. More money was spent on the Olympics than the Mars landing. In a quick glance at Google (my version of research), I see costings of 10 billion pounds, 15 billion pounds, or more, depending on whether you’re talking to a politician or a media personality. Just think what you could do with 15 billions pounds in a world where whole countries are starving!
2. The vision of the Olympics has been corrupted by sponsorship and greed. Olympic athletes are now more interested in personal glory than the glory of their country. This is evidenced (the debaters said) by the number of competitors who live and train and compete for one of the larger countries, even though they were born in another, less prosperous country. They go where their win is. Right down to the American Dressage competitor riding the winner of the 2008 games – a German horse.
And sponsorship! The two main sponsors of the Olympic Games: McDonalds and Coca Cola. How did this happen? In the room next door, my Year 8 debaters were debating whether the government should add tax to high fat foods. Does nobody see the conflict of interest here?
3. The Olympic Games have lost all sense of tradition. When was the last time you saw a naked Greek man running in the marathon at the Olympics? See what I mean? No tradition. Wait. Did I say “I”? I meant, see what the students meant? I was just illustrating the point. Even here, my debaters didn’t contest the argument.
At no stage were they debating that the Olympics as they are should be continued. Their argument was that they should not be discontinued. They put forward the idea that the Olympics should return to the simple concepts and traditions that made them such a good idea in the first place. Instead of dividing nations and causing competition, separating rich countries from poor, the Olympics should purely be about the sport. Have the flame of competition without the golden arches plastered to the side of the torch. Compete for the glory of the win rather than the future sponsorship deals a win will garner.
First stop in that path? Kill sponsorship. Cap spending at what is necessary to provide accommodation for the athletes – no new stadiums, no massive opening ceremonies, no Gallaghers at all. I think the world will thank me. Our opposition screamed “But then nobody will watch the games! Nobody will televise it! What’s the point?” The point is, I think, that we will have single-handedly removed the tempation to do drugs, cheat, spend thousands on super hero costumes masquerading as uniforms and restored the concept of competition to the forefront of the Olympic ideal. Who cares if nobody is watching? You know what? Who watches the Paralympics? These are people with FAR more Olympic spirit, competing for the glory of achieving something great, and nobody will show them on television.
My team argued that the games should definitely continue, but that the Olympic spirit would die if we continued with the bloated, parasitic monster of a model that is the current Olympics.
Sidenote: I thought that here would be a great place to put a picture of the “Olympic Monster” so I did a quick Google search. Instead, I came up with this article, about a sea monster, terrorising Olympic athletes…
Again, bloated, parasitic monster that is the Olympics as it has become. In my head, the Olympics is the lean, muscled, Greek Adonis, wearing the laurel wreath and carrying a bright torch of competition and comeraderie. And if we take away the sponsorship and the shiny stadiums, and the Olympics disappear, we at least know that they haven’t died. That happened decades ago. Rather, they were on life-support, trapped inside their head, looking at that fine body wasting away to fat and rot, unable to die because nobody would let them.
If we won’t let the true spirit of the Olympics live again, at least let it die with dignity.