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Obligatory Olympic post

February 14, 2010

Living in Canada, I’m pretty much enveloped by all things Olympics right now. So much so that I actually watched the freestyle moguls – I didn’t watch a single minute of the Beijing ollies. The moguls… are one strange sport. Which is the winter Olympics’ most endearing trait – while watching many of the sports, you have wonder how anyone could have thought them up in the first place.

Which makes me think I should write an “Olympic post” except that I don’t know what to write. I basically detest the Olympics – not just because they are run by horrible people, but because I do have fond memories of watching the Olympics when I was young, before I knew that they were run by horrible people. It’s become harder since then.*

* Which is not to say that I am advocating a boycott; I’m still consume massive amounts of baseball each year, even though MLB is run by horrible people as well. If you love the Olympics, then watch by all means.

But I’m not naturally attracted to any of the Olympic sports. And while baseball may be run by horrible people, at least neither them nor us has to pretend otherwise. The Olympics, on the other hand, are also about showcasing our country, our culture, and our merchandise. We’ve bet millions of dollars that this is a better forum to promote ourselves than less expensive options, which include, well, everything.

So we get the inevitable backlash about the imagery, the language, the architecture (and I’m reading negative tweets about the food) – and while maybe we doth complain too much, but after eight years of planning and millions (billions?) spent, the critics have a right to hold this sucker to high standards.

I might argue that the Olympics would be a lot better if it was just athletes competing, without any countries involved (the John Lennon Olympics?). But as I type, Alexandre Bilodeau has won a gold medal for Canada, and that seems to make people really excited and happy, and like the younger Lennon I don’t want to spoil the party.

A better argument would be that everyone should just stop participating in the bidding process, and maybe pick the host city out of a hat instead. There is a saying that applies to all sorts of things, from umpires to special effects to hairpieces – that the best ones are the ones you don’t notice. I think I might enjoy watching the games a lot more if I didn’t have to think or care about what city of country they were hosted in.

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