Not sure about the relevance of this article,... but I am wondering about the Olympics myself as well.
I have watched my fair share of it this time around, mixing various disciplines. I used to watch a lot and have fond memories of the 1984 LA Olympics. I love sports myself and have participated in competitions of basketball, volleyball, tennis, table tennis, long distance walking,... I did also practise more casually swimming, soccer, archery, running, badmington, kayaking, rafting, skiing,... so sports has already played an important part in my life and I can relate to the fun of competing and to the urge to reach excellence.
Now, my perception of the Olympics started to go down in my mind from Atlanta Games where it became all too obvious that the Coca Cola spirit was playing a much larger role in the Olympics than fairplay or athlete performance. Or perhaps is it just that I started to understand things better at that time.
Yes, there is still impressive performance on display from the best athletes in the world. It is definitely a good show and fun to watch.
I am wondering though whether the Olympics still deserve the holy aura they have been associated with. I haven't spent much time thinking about this, but there are a few aspects I am not very comfortable with when watching the Games...The Olympics are too commercial
To my eyes, it is more and more a big commercial venture focused, like all the other major sports events, on sponsors value. The controversy that surrounded the usage by Jamaican sprinter Blake of a non official sponsor watch is a good example of that reality. The Olympic spirit sounds more like a marketing feature aimed at inviting more watchers rather than anything tangible. I feel a bit cheated and would probably be more comfortable if the holy aspects were simply removed from the games and them be renamed into something like "The Big Sports Show". It would be a lot closer to the truth and would avoid us having to lie to our kids about the reality of the world we live in.The Olympics is too big and expensive
On the sports part of the event itself, I feel that it has become too big and complex with sports like Taekwondo having, in my view, nothing more to do at olympics than Karate or Kung fu. I could give more examples like BMX and the like. The Olympics is more about countries opposition than togetherness
On the Olympic spirit of bringing athletes together... what stands out is more the huge sums invested by the US and China to keep/gain mind share in terms of World's dominance rather than the possible chat perhaps taking place between athletes. I see the Olympic as a stage for a large orchestrated symbolic fight between countries rather than as a place of peace between people. It was the case during the cold war and still in the case today. I have unfortunately never witnessed fairplay or the importance of participation over winning as an actual value being promoted during the event. The event simply is totally about winning with a slight concession that the 2/3 best losers also get a medal.
Heck, if bringing countries together were the real goal of the Olympics, then we would need football teams made up of players from differ nations competing side by side... Hey... wait... isn't that what we already have during European Champions League? Would this mean that the Champions League does more for the world's peace than the Olympics?
It seems it does.
I guess that the problem I have with all this aspect of the Games is that the very notion of nation seems outdated and more and more irrelevant. The olympics is just one of the most obvious artifacts showing the meme "country" trying to fight for its very survival against the Facebook and Google+ virtual communities that don't care for borders and nationality.What else?
No doubts the Olympics are here to stay and I am sure they will keep being a nice show.
But is there really now way to have something close to what we have been calling the Olympic spirit?
One way forward might be to come up with something totally different in parallel with the Olympics, a set of decentralized and truly democratic events that would be designed by the sportsman for the sportsman and would, hopefully, not interest sponsors or TV channels the least bit. An open source Olympics. That would bring a lot more value to our world in terms of letting people know and understand each others. The output would not be living legends aimed at keeping the ball running, but better understanding.
- replace country by person as the relevant granularity,
- remove sponsor money from the equation,
- get small and decentralized,
But what do I know? The Olympics was a good show, it was fun to watch.