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The Truth About the Olympics

August 17, 2008

I haven’t written anything about the Olympics so far. Not that you’re for lack of content on the web about the worldwide games. Michael Phelps’ face is plastered on every major website, and there are constant updates and speculations about the events going on.

I try not to get into the Olympics primarily because it’s so easy to get into it. You could easily sit watch 6-8 hours of the Olympics every day thanks to the time difference, television coverage, and compelling mix of various events and human interest stories. I learned the other day that Michael Phelps actually swam out of his mothers womb at a rate faster than any other human. He can also turn water into wine.

Despite my efforts to not care about the games, for some reason I care about the U.S. winning more medals than anyone else. I don’t really know why; I guess my tax dollars support our athletes, but it’s such a silly thing to support. Do you want your tax dollars to go to skeet shooting or water ballet? I sure don’t. And yet I want us to have more medals than China, perhaps simply because they care so much.

The one event that I really do care about is the 100 meter dash. If you haven’t watched Usain Bolt break the world record in the final, go to www.nbcolympics.com and check it out. He does it with such ease and grace that it’s completely audacious. He literally saunters to the finish because he’s so far ahead of everyone else.

Last, one of the big reasons why the Olympics aren’t all that interesting to me is the rampant recruiting of athletes. The Olympics is supposed to be the one international event where you play for your home country—even if you play basketball in the U.S., you’re stuck on the Bolivian national team whether you like it or not. And you do your best for your country.

But now, “your country” could mean any country. Were you born and raised in the Bronx, but you have a great-grandparent who was half Russian? Play for Russia! Did you eat Lebanese food last week? Play for Lebanon! Own a Kelly green t-shirt? You’re Irish!

Seriously, listen to the announcers talk about the Olympic athletes. You’d think that they’re all American citizens. They certainly all train here. I think 90% of Olympic athletes train at Auburn University.

So all the U.S. citizens who aren’t good enough to play for the U.S. teams play for their “home” countries. But the U.S. is the worst violator of them all, because we import the best athletes from around the world, including athletes who have formerly won Olympic medals for other countries. Does this seem at all fair? The Olympics might as well be a bunch of athletes completing for themselves if they can move from country to country at will!

That being said, I’m getting my Tajikistanian citizenship just in time to compete for their rhythmic gymnastics team.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. aquavator permalink
    August 19, 2008 8:44 pm

    I don’t get the Olympics. Why would I get excited about fringe sports like rowing once every four years when I don’t care the rest of the time? I’m convinced people watch because they are constantly being told how important the OLYMPICS are. When it’s most just a big money grab and – at least this year – a chance for China to try out some new security technology.

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