Monday, August 25, 2008

The Rings Are Packed Away.

Another Summer Olympics has come and gone. And I didn't watch more than a minute of it.

I'm not much of a sports fan. My viewing is generally limited to Canadian football, major league baseball, and the combat sports. Although baseball and the martial arts are represented at the Olympics I really couldn't be bothered to watch them. The professional versions provide me enough entertainment without going to the trouble of figuring out the broadcast schedule for the Olympic versions.

I didn't even watch the opening and closing ceremonies, which many people do even if they have no interest in the games. I'm definitely not a fan of overrought and contrived spectacles like those.

The Olympics themselves seem to feel more and more contrived with each passing edition. Consider the fact that the IOC has decided to drop women's softball. This comes only a few years after women's beach volleyball became an Olympic sport. Given what the uniform for the latter is it's hard not to speculate that women's softball was dropped because the uniforms just aren't sexy enough. Gotta get in those TV viewers. If you're a competitor in a less telegenic sport it might be worth your while to find ways to sex it up or you too may be on the way out the door, to be replaced by women's "fitness" competition or something like that.

One of the more amusing disconnects about the Olympics is the closing speech of the head of the IOC, who for years has called upon "the youth of the world" to assemble again in four years for the next Olympics. But not all Olympic competitors are youth. Take Canada's Ian Millar. The veteran equestrian is 61 this year. He's old enough that he could have a grandkid competing alongside him. This is his ninth Olympics. From what I can tell the shooting sports also tend to skew older, which is not a surprise given that they rely on accuracy and not sheer physical ability.

Canada won 18 medals this year, and of course the response was the inevitable. "We didn't win enough medals! What went wrong?" This is the same response after pretty much every Olympics. I suspect that if Canada were to come in second some day we'd hear the exact same whining.

There has been a lot of criticism of the Chinese for doing things like stifling protests and replacing a singer at the opening ceremonies with a better looking one. But really, does anyone think we won't see similar things in Vancouver for the 2010 Winter Games? You can bet people will be displaced from their homes to make room for Olympic atheletes and specatators, or even just to hide that there are "undesirable" people in Vancouver. You can bet various civil liberties will be tramped on in the name of preventing terrorism or "disruption" of the event. And you can be it's going to cost the Canadian taxpayer a lot more than was predicted.

One thing the Olympics seems to have done for me is generate some visitors. Specifically I've gotten quite a few hits in the last 2 or 3 weeks as a result of my Don Whitman obituary. Not having watched CBC's Olympic coverage I have no idea if this was because they had a tribute to Mr. Whitman, or if it was simply people not knowing he had died and trying to find out why he wasn't there like they expected.

No comments: