Friday, 27 July 2012

The Olympic games - the problem

I'm not that fond of the Olympics, I don't take my distaste for the games too far as I will watch some contests that hold interest for me. My problem with games revolves around two related issues and is mostly associated with athletics. The first is the way politics and prestige have both taken their toll on the game's integrity as a contest, one of the latest examples of which is the exclusion of the Greek triple jumper Voula Papachristou. See it's not enough to be excellent, you have to submit, to what? well that's irrelevant really, it's just whichever doctrine the bureaucrats foist on you at the time and no half hearted acquiescence will do either, you have to signal your endorsement with enthusiasm. Historically this was more of a problem associated with the recognised totalitarian regimes, you know the ones, the various flavours of Germany, the Soviets, et cetera. Then there's the numerous boycotts organised under various causes, you're racist, you've invaded Afganistan, you don't put vinegar on your chips.  All these are sponsored by state governments, which incidentally the various national Olympic committees are supposed to autonomous from according the Olympic charter.

The second reason is the nature of athletic contests, they're called The Olympic Games for a reason, they were conceived at a time when sport was supposed to fun. In fact the very monica sport has only been applied this to kind of activity recently to add gravity, previously it had been reserved for hunting, shooting and fishing. The problem with athletics is they're raw, the rules are perfunctory: wait for the gun, don't trip anyone up, run fast, that's about it really. So all things being equal, the guy who wins is going to be the naturally gifted athlete who's lucky on the day. All well and good when it's a game, just some fun enjoyed by amateurs but it's not a game anymore is it? It's about prestige and power conducted through proxies who've spent their lives dedicated to the goal of winning, who've had their bodies enhanced through rigorous diets, drugs and medical procedure. These people, at least the successful ones, rarely have a life outside their athletic ambitions. Sure they select suitable raw material to feed the sausage machine but these days winners are made not born. And this is where the points are related, winning has become too important to be left to natural talent, you have to have the right winner, the right look, the right complexion, the right views.

It's not absolute of course, talent will win through against the greatest challenge to frustrate people who'd have it all their own way. It's just that you don't find many such examples in the Olympics, there're not many real people's champions like: Alex Higgins, John McEnroe, George Best. The best example of an Olympian who was a people's champion, that I can think of, was Eddie the Eagle and what did they do? they changed the rules to exclude him.

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