Why I Hate the Olympics

12 May

      Anyone who watched the preliminaries for UFC 159 on the FX channel recently may have noticed the discussion of wrestling being dropped from the Olympic games as of 2020. Now as should have been made clear by some of my previous posts, I am not exactly the world’s biggest fan of the Olympic movement. The decision made several months ago by a secret ballot of the International Olympic Committee to eliminate wrestling gave me just one more reason to despise the international orgy of commercialism, jingoism and ongoing corruption that is the Olympics.
      Forget the fact wrestling is one of the few true Olympic sports, one that was actually included in the original Olympics. Forget that it is, arguably, the world’s oldest sport with mentions made in the old testament of the Bible and other ancient texts dating back thousands of years to the dawn of civilization. Forget that it is done by millions of people in virtually every country on earth, and ask yourself is it really less deserving of inclusion in the world’s largest athletic event than, say… synchronized diving? Or ping-pong? Or the 900 different events they have for swimming? I’m not criticizing these other sports (well actually I am criticizing synchronized diving) but surely there are a few current Olympic events just a little less deserving of inclusion based on both history and number of participants worldwide, than wrestling. Modern pentathlon, a strange mix of running, swimming, shooting, fencing and riding a horse (which I actually do sort of like) had participants from 26 countries in the last Olympics while 71 countries sent wrestlers.
      But this thorough hypocrisy should not come as a complete shock to the wrestling community or the sporting community as a whole. For years, I’ve been told privately by elite wrestlers, as well as top coaches from other unpopular Olympic sports like weightlifting, that the IOC has long been marginalizing these events with an ultimate eye toward completely eliminating them. The reason? They don’t get as many advertising dollars as do other, more telegenic or high brow, Olympic sports like beach volleyball, gymnastics or sailing. Those events either appeal more to a female viewing audience on TV – men, the networks believe, will watch the Olympics no matter what is being shown while women will only watch events that appeal to them – or have better potential for marketing (there are a lot of people who buy bicycles, thus the Olympics continue to hold drug-scandal plagued cycling events while eliminating wrestling since there’s not much money in selling wrestling mats).
      The fact this greed-based decision was made entirely in secret makes the process even more distasteful. Say what you want about American democracy but there is some small degree of transparency and accountability, at least when Congress or the Supreme Court cast their votes on matters. International quasi-governmental organizations like the IOC follow no such standards. They are run by a group of faceless bureaucrats, many of whom come from some of the most corrupt places on earth (and I don’t mean Chicago) where a bit of bakshish to get things done is the normal means of doing business. These are just some of the many reasons why I HATE the Olympics.
      While the Olympic ideal of young people gathering in a peaceful, non-partisan celebration of sportsmanship sounds nice, it has never been anything more than a fantasy ever since the first modern Olympic games were held more than a hundred years ago. They have always been a venue for cheating, crass (and sometimes violent) political displays, and general pettiness. So perhaps it’s time all sports from the United States (and every other rational country) woke up and pulled back from the Olympic movement, at least in it’s current form. All of those sports now have a yearly world championship anyway where their best athletes can compete against each other. So the need for an Olympics is more symbolic than real nowadays.
      Maybe the Olympics doesn’t need wrestling anymore but wrestling should finally realize, they don’t need the Olympics. And neither does anyone else.

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One Response to “Why I Hate the Olympics”

  1. Roger May 12, 2013 at 6:33 pm #

    Reblogged this on Three hoodies save the world.

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