Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Why I Hate the Olympics

Once upon a time I enjoyed watching some Olympics events like gymnastics. Now I don't care.

1. The IOC has turned what was once grassroots and heartfelt into a moneymaking sponsor-driven ad fest.

They security firms were unable to find enough security personnel needed to secure the games, but they managed to find almost 300 brand enforcers to walk around taping over faucets at local establishments bearing company names that haven't sponsored the event.

Their corporate money-driven greed prevents anyone except NBC, who signed an exclusive contract for over $1 billion, from broadcasting the event so many people didn't get to see it and it wasn't live streamed on the Internet (what was, was plagued with delays and problems). Live events should not HAVE exclusivity contracts; they should be unenforceable. NBC wouldn't have covered the games otherwise?

The IOC has tried to geoblock social media reporting about the event. My ONLY choice for seeing the Olympics is via illegal download (simple, but not interested). Update: Turns out I can see the Olympics on IBA (thanks Bassie).

You can't even mention the word Olympics, the date 2012 and the word games, or any symbology associated with the games without being hit with a lawsuit. A 30 year old Greek restaurant named Olympic Gyro was forced to change its name to "protect the rights" of the corporate sponsors. An 81 year old grandmother making little teddy bears to sell for $1 was shut down.

The IOC went so far as to try to prevent anyone from linking to their site if the link was in a context that wasn't positive (to universal scorn and derision).

Ticket prices range from a mere 15 GBP for cheap seats at events that last 30 minutes to over 700 GBP for good seats in some events. Most seats are 50 GBP or up. (To be fair, there were some 20 GBP seats at the opening ceremony, with other seats ranging as high as 2000 GBP.)

So much for the games of the people.

2. The competition brings out the worst.

Winning is far more important than competing. The World Doping Agency is now an integral part of the IOC, and several athletes have already failed doping tests. Bizarrely, even the players in the mind sports games are subject to doping tests, as if someone playing Chess is ever going to take steroids to win a game!

Never heard of the World Mind Sports Games? They're part of the Olympics, but they don't televise well so no one seems to care.

As for the former humans who now complete, don't even think about it unless you have a ton of money for the computers and science that can analyze your every twitch to sculpt your body and movement into robotic perfection.

Does the competition break down stereotypes and increase world peace? Apparently not, if you consider the recent spate of athletes tossed out of the game for racist tweets. The Lebanese team refused to train near the Israelis and the Iranian team won't compete against them.

Does the competition at least bring pride to their nations? I don't know, but it sure doesn't do anything of importance for them. Did you know that Syria has an Olympic team? Has that registered yet? Who in Syria is going to benefit right now if their team wins or loses?

Does the competition even inspire anyone to exercise? Or do we just live vicariously through those who do?

Countries don't benefit internally from having their players win or lose, and countries don't make peace as a result of the competition.

3. It costs too many resources.

The UK taxpayer has spent more than $14 billion (Sky News reportedly thinks it may end up at over 24 billion GBP) to host the games, and the only one benefiting from that is the IOC and its sponsors. They spent $500,000 just on 17 sandstone toadstools. The people of England could have used that money at this particular time (when they are cutting pensions, sick pay, or simply firing public sector workers). The people lost a vast amount of public space, either destroyed or permanently turned over to corporate ownership. Other countries have spent millions to billions of dollars to send their athletes.

The UK assigned more armed forces to protect the Olympics than they deployed to Afghanistan. Don't these people have anything better to do?

4. It takes up too much media time.

7 rockets aimed at civilians have hit Israel since the start of the Olympics. These were not in response to any activity on Israel's part, just the daily fun time of Islamic militants. Did your news cover that?

The only English language radio I receive here is the BBC, whose reporters appear to be in a continuous state of climax over the games and believe that all their listeners are too.

Around the world, real things are happening; other than a great monetary, privacy, and human rights loss to UK taxpayers and the imaginary importance of winning some games, nothing is happening in London.


P.S. And I didn't even mention the minute of silence controversy. The IOC said that the minute of silence for the Israeli victims of massacre 40 years ago at the Olympics was not appropriate for an Olympic opening ceremony, but the 4 hour ceremony managed to include a minute of silence for people killed in WW1 and WWII. Past Olympics ceremonies have included minutes of silence for those killed on 9/11 and in London on 7/7.

Read: we don't want Arab countries to boycott the Olympics. How about this: tell any country that threatens to boycott the games that they are violating the spirit of the games and then throw them out? Oh right: money.


Batya said...

You can watch the games on IBA's website-even see four events at a time-I did for a few minutes. And with no chatter.

Nadine said...

Eurosport TV coverage so far has been almost exclusively Swimming, Weightlifting, Volleyball and Team Handball.

Yehuda Berlinger said...

That's probably the events that have been undertaken until now, no?

Batya said...

You're welcome, Jon. Enjoy the fruits of your big brother's labors

Yehuda Berlinger said...

I'm still not going to watch it. Didn't you read the rest of the post?


Scrabble Online Against Computer said...

Why I hate the olympics: Men's fieldhockey is a sport but baseball is not.... wow. And everything you already mentioned is pretty spot-on as well.

Friendless said...

As a person on the opposite side of the world with a job, I haven't got time to watch the Olympics, despite the fact that I'd really like to. If the clips were on Youtube I'd be able to see them, but I can't see that happening while there are billions of dollars of TV rights at stake. Australian Olympic officials are complaining that we are doing poorly because we don't fund sports enough, but I'm thinking that I'm actually not getting very much for that funding, so I'm happy to do without medals thank you very much... eventually even the Olympics will be replaced by something more suited to the times.