Every four years my body goes through a strange metamorphosis as I change from a mild-mannered, even-tempered senior citizen to an angry, cynical and confrontational person.
What gets my water so hot? That quadrennial con job called the Olympics.
Yes, folks it’s here again, the overblown hoopla and creative accounting of three levels of government concealing the real cost of putting on this sports extravaganza.
The only redeeming feature of this year’s edition is the fact the Brits are paying for it. Yes, that’s right, Britain’s beleaguered economy is picking up the tab while cutting back on just about everything else, from their national health service to education funding and defence.
Oh, well, our cousins can take solace in the fact that Greece, which hosted the games in 2004, has shown the world that prudent fiscal management makes the consequent debt burden quite manageable. Those lovely big empty stadia are great for holding protest rallies against government austerity plans.
To my simple mind, the right thing to do with the Olympic Games, recognizing they do have some intrinsic value, is to build permanent sites (as originally done) for both the summer and winter games, somewhere in Europe. Greece would be logical for the summer events and a location in or near Switzerland for the winter sports. All member states would contribute to the building and maintenance of these sites. To have the whole panoply moving from country to country like wandering Bedouins just makes no sense whatever unless, of course, you are a developer.
I want to be clear that I do not condemn the Olympic idea itself — only the corruption that has crept into it over the years, the vast organization and costs that go into staging what in essence are contests between athletes.
Like most people, I get a big thrill when I see some Canadians on the podium or some other athlete who has overcome enormous odds to win an event.
In the beginning, around 776 B.C., the games were a means of city-states competing, not on battlefields, but in sports, a much less bloody and costly way to show dominance. The various events were, in fact, elements of warfare, boxing, wresting, javelin throwing, running (useful if you are losing the battle). Over the years, the events were refined somewhat and other contests emerged, chariot racing, hurdling, etc.
The original athletes competed in the nude as part of the spectacle was a religious respect for perfect bodies. It also cut down greatly on laundry. I wonder how long it will take before some television mogul comes up with the idea of broadcasting nude athletes as a way to boost audiences.
Come to think of it, some sports are so boring it might not be a bad idea. I’m thinking of discus throwing and shot put. In this latter event, the aim is to push, not throw, a sixteen pound metal ball as far as you can. I can’t guess who thought up that thriller.
I do like the racing especially those over fairly long distances within the stadium. The l00 metre dashes take more time to get in position than to run them and I get tendonitis just watching the agony on the faces of the marathon runners.
I have a confession to make; despite all I’ve complained about, I have been secretly training for my own Olympic event by rigorous dieting.
You see, I’m a javelin catcher and one needs to be as thin as possible in the event one fails to catch the darned thing.