I’m Glad All That’s Over

Or should that be – I’m Glad That’s All Over?

The Olympics, I mean. But you knew that.

I don’t mind the sport. That’s why I watch in the first place. And I’ve blogged a bit about my thoughts on the commentators. But I keep the mute button close by. And there’s cycling commentator Phil Ligget who is master of his craft and I’ve never had a problem listening to him. So even the commentators are not all idiots.

What I’m glad about is the end of the public display of how some nations treat their children, taking them from their parents and pressure-cooking them into sporting heroes for the sake of nationalism. The doctrine that the state owns the children of its citizens is quite wide spread. Pressure-cooking is alive and well.

But pressure-cooking people never really works. In any endeavour. The success it brings is limited in scope and comes at a high cost. Consider what was traded for each Olympic gold medal. What personal sacrifice was made, and by whom? And for what? And who has first decided that sacrifice will be made?

Time was, a winner was a winner. We knew that. We remember Herb Elliot and Roger Bannister running the four minute mile. We knew them as individuals. We applauded them as individuals. These days, it’s the country who competes. The Olympic winner is the nation not the athlete. We ride piggyback on the ability of one in a million, or one in a billion. We’ve become hitchhikers.

I loved the moment last week when a gold medal winner was asked how Olympic gold stacked up against all his other victories in national and local competitions. His said competing in his club events was as much fun as the Olympics. He was in it for the sport, for the doing of it, for the pure and simple engagement of himself and others doing what they loved most.

The commentator doing the interview couldn’t quite handle that. The answer got the better of his cliche-ridden thinking. The commentator wanted a bit of nationalism, a bit of jingoism, a bit of shared glory. He wanted to feel that he had a part in the victory. The commentator wanted to think that by putting his particular brand of pressure on the athlete he could own some of the real estate. He was a closet pressure-cooker, that commentator. He differed only in scale from the political and social planners who take a four year old child from her family and put her through a twelve year regime of instruction with the single aim of Olympic gold.

And I, for one, and glad it’s all over.

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