Sadly, Olympic fever has once again gripped an otherwise reasonable city and turned it upside down. This time, the cheapened whore is London. Now, some of you may point out that I’ve never had much love for London, and that’s true. While I adore England, I’ve always found her capital to be a gray, grotty, sloppy amalgam of a city. It’s like there is no British vision whatsoever in the city.
So sure, no love lost between me and London. But that doesn’t mean I would wish something as baleful and crass as the Olympics on her. I don’t particularly like Wichita Kansas but I would never express joy should a tornado rip the city apart. I’m not an animal.
Don’t get me wrong: I love the concept of the Olympics. I love the idea that young athletes can excel in their chosen sport and prove themselves on a global stage. Hell, it makes me all teary-eyed just thinking about it.
So why the anti-Olympic rancor? Because the Games and the process have been hijacked by politicians and corporations. And because this hijack is unnecessary.
Let’s start with the most odious of the processes: the city selection by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). This once-proud organization has degenerated into a cynical, corrupt panel of craven scumbags. The Salt Lake City and Beijing selection processes were so corrupt that journalists worldwide had a heyday documenting all the subterfuge and bribery.
Not only is the selection process tainted, but the very idea of world cities vying and bullying their way to Olympic glory is, in my mind, an idiotic process that should be abolished.
It’s sickening to watch. I have a better idea:
Since the Greek economy is down the shitter, let’s bring the Games back home. Let’s make the Olympic Center in Athens permanent. After all, they invented the goddamn Games. Every four years, the Greek economy will get a massive boost and we can avoid the graft and waste when a city builds a new Olympic village from scratch.
The Winter Olympics can be held nearby in the Alps. We can let Cortina D’Ampezzo and Chamonix host every other Winter Olympics. Done deal.
Now, some people will get all weepy because we aren’t “spreading the Olympics” all over the world. But like most weepy bullshit, this is just weepy bullshit. It’s the COMPETITORS that matter, not the location. The Olympics will be as international as ever. Young people from every corner of the globe will still have an opportunity to show the world how great they can be. It will be totally awesome and it will be like a pilgrimage for people who love sport.
Athens will become a sports Mecca. Young kids will dream of Athens. The legacy of the original games will connect these young people with a democratic ideal going back thousands of years. It will be meaningful and wonderful.
So anyway, once the corrupt and evil IOC city selection process is finally ended, we can solve the next evil and corrupt problem associated with the Olympics: wasteful civic construction.
When a city hosts the Olympics, it has to build massive stadiums, massive villages, massive transportation solutions and massive security details. All for five weeks of Games. Five. Freakin’. Weeks! People are displaced, homes are destroyed, neighborhoods are altered and massive debt is incurred.
After that, the host city is stuck with massive walls of worthless bullshit. What to do? They can’t fill them. They can’t lease them. So they tear it all down or leave it to rot. Sure: the Olympic Stadium in Los Angeles has held up for generations. But that arena is the exception that proves the rule: Olympic construction is a boon for contractors and temp employees and a total waste for taxpayers. The sheer volume of disused, overgrown, wasted Olympic construction sites is sad.
Additionally, if we can site the Olympics permanently at Athens, we won’t need all that capital from all those greedy corporations. Of course, I wouldn’t ban all corporate sponsorship; athletes need infrastructure for training and guidance. But the Games themselves do not need to be festooned with Coca-Cola, Dow Chemical, and BP Oil advertisements every 8 meters. If a company wants to support Olympic athletes, it should do so and create media advertisements that tout what nice fucking guys they are. But that’s where it should end. The Olympic site itself should be free of mass logos and the dreary drumbeat of corporate cheerleading. After all, it’s supposed to be about the Games, right? About the young people? Remember them?
Which brings me to my last bitch about the Olympics:
NBC has the world’s shittiest Olympics coverage, bar none. I’d rather watch full Olympic coverage from Serbia or Laos even though I can’t understand their languages. I can understand a country wanting to highlight its own successful athletes. But NBC has warped its patriotic broadcasts as badly as North Korea. It’s all-USA, all the time. It’s pathetic. They think we’re too lazy, stupid and single-minded to enjoy something as “foreign” as fencing. That’s why I don’t bother watching the Olympics on NBC. I’m lucky enough to have Canadian broadcasts dribble into my TV. CBC does a MUCH better job than NBC.
I think NBC needs to let go. The Olympic Games should be broadcast by PBS. After all, they are our “national” broadcaster. I’m sure PBS would do a fine job highlighting America’s best competitors without turning it into a circle-jerk rah-rah session.
In sum, fuck the Olympics. We can do better.