Reasons To Not Watch The Olympics This Year

Or Any Other Year, For That Matter

2008 Summer Olympics

2008 Summer Olympics

In all honesty, it makes me sad to say this, but I won’t be watching this year. I won’t because too much of it is boring, and far too much of it is far too political. Yes, yes, I have major qualms about (Red) China hosting this showcase for its own propagandistic purposes, and even more qualms about the pollution to which the athletes are being subjected (and what that does to the quality of the competition). Further, I insist that Tibet has at least as much claim to nationhood as does Ukraine, if not more (and we haven’t even mentioned Taiwan, yet).

Yes, the politics are awful, the infrastructure worse, and the reflexive efforts of the Chinese government to censor the reports (even and especially over the Internet) simply idiotic and insulting. That’s not keeping me away.

It is also true that the coverage of the Olympics themselves will once again be mundane, mostly one-sided, semi-informed and mostly boring. That will be mostly (but not completely) NBCs fault. Again.

The Olympics are not intrinsically dull, and certainly good sports commentators exist and are even employed at that network. Indeed, you have to work very hard to make this the games a sleep inducement, and NBC has done so consistently since 1972 when two major disasters happened – the massacre of the Israeli team, and the first loss, ever, of the U.S. basketball team.

Tommy "Jet" Smith, John Carlos, Mexico, 1968

Tommy "Jet" Smith, John Carlos, Mexico, 1968

Lest you think I’m crazy for putting those two events on the same plain, consider the causes and what followed. The Olympic committee had given up on keeping politics out of the events, something they tried to do – and failed – when Tommy “Jet” Smith and John Carlos raised their fists in a black power salute. In ’72 it was terrorism, in 1980 we did not even attend the Summer Olympics (and the Soviets did not attend the 1984 games in L.A.). Judges have been bought and sold, their otherwise inexplicable scores thus explained. Most telling is the fact that the IOC has not attempted to decrease the influence of these judges, but aided, abetted and increased their corruption by showcasing the very “sports” most reliant on their subjective judgment. And this continues far past 1972.

It’s been that way since 1976 and the rise of Nadia Comaneci. NBC has merely gone along with political game within the games.

When cold-war politics showed up on the basketball floor, the only response heard from the IOC was to forcibly remove the amateurs from the games. I assume you know who’s on the US Olympic Basketball team now. And you know who plays on the nations’ tennis teams? And Hockey in the winter games? Even the pretense of amateurism is gone. The IOC no longer pretends to know what an amateur athlete is, even when they are bopped on the nose by one spiking a volleyball.

Any of those things by themselves – the politics, the corruption, the monetization (and drugs) would not keep me from watching the Olympics. I caught a few hours of the trials last month, and with that, plus Wimbledon and then the Tour de France, I realized that I’m very hungry to see the competition. But that’s not what they’ll be showing, for the most part.

What NBC will be showing, yet again, are those damnable “personal profiles” of the (US) athletes. I will not watch those.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Personal, politics, Sports

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