Sunday, February 09, 2014

Ten Reasons to be excited about Sochi (and past and future Olympics)

Satirical Olympic Symbol
The Harsh Light of Day 

Ten Reasons to be excited about Sochi (and past and future Olympics).

  1. The Olympics are the one remaining bastion of unselfishness; athletes compete on behalf of  the nation that raised and nurtured them, not for personal glory. That's why any medals they win are melted down and sold, the proceeds given to the fight against illiteracy, poverty, disease and desecration of the environment.
  2. They are an opportunity for wealthy corporations to express their humanitarian impulses by donating millions, not in the hope that advertising value will come out of their association with the athletes but for the good of all the peoples of all the nations of the world.
  3. They cost virtually nothing because the athletes are amateurs who hold regular jobs and train on the weekends when they're not volunteering in soup kitchens and nursing homes. Sport, they contend, should never be dependent on government or commercial handouts since the participants are the fittest in the land and there are many people who need such assistance far more than they do.
  4. The cost of the infrastructure is negligible as the hundreds of billions spent, for instance for the Sochi event, will leave behind wonderful facilities so the locals can learn to excel in slope-style snowboarding, speed skating and exhilarating mogul skiing.
  5. They are one event in which nations put aside all political, adversarial impulses and put first the pure delight of being part of one universal brotherhood-of-man: everyone equal, everyone empathetic to the needs of others, all swords melted down to make farming implements.
  6. It's a time when all subjective impulses are put aside and the judges—no matter which nation they come from—rule purely on objective criteria so that we always know that the gold medal went to the very best performance.
  7. We all put aside our chauvanism for a time, so much so that it doesn't matter who wins the games but only whether or not they all had a good time and played their best. This impulse so energizes us that we don't even keep track of winners' and losers' nationalities. We eulogize the beauty of the achievements, not the zero-sum, winners/losers obsession that takes place in professional sports fandom. We are better people and much more sportsmanlike for having lived the experience in front of our TVs.
  8. Olympics are and have always been models of pure sport; only athletes who recognize this and don't try to gain an advantage by consuming various performance-enhancing drugs ever aspire to these games, knowing full well that to cheat there is to lose big time, whether one "medals" or not. The games teach their countrymen what we need to know about honesty and integrity as being more important than acquisition and glory.
  9. The games produce an aura of international unity; emotional boundaries among countries magically fade away and for weeks and years following, all peoples of the world lay down their armaments and resolve to live together as one peoples, the children of one creator.
  10. Human rights take on new meaning because of the games; discrimination on the basis of age, gender, religion, sexual orientation, nationality or race melts away and those persons formerly despised for their differences suddenly appear as equals to everyone, by everyone. 

    Such is the power of the Olympics, a blessing to be savoured by all. Indeed, can you imagine a world without them?

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