Cromey Online

The writings of author, therapist, and priest Robert Warren Cromey.

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Location: San Francisco, California, United States

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Musings on the Olympics and China

Lots of fuss about he Olympics these days. Everyone hates China’s human rights abuses. Many want the throat tingle of seeing the torch racing through our cities. Many of us want to see protesters impeding the runner’s progress. Many see the human rights abuses of the United States government toward homosexuals, immigrants, Iraqis, Palestinians, Afghanis and torture victims.

We can’t wait to see the thrilling opening and closing ceremonies orchestrated by Hollywood and Madison Avenue. We cheer the winners of track, field and swimming events so long as they are Americans. Television coverage of the games veers away from events where Americans do not compete or are perceived to play poorly.

The Olympics like all American sports are about business not sport. The Olympic games and the massive media coverage of the events are about selling beer, not athletic prowess. Many of us do not watch the coverage of the Olympics for the same reason we do not watch telecasts of sporting events or network TV programming. It’s the commercials stupid. Certainly the commercials are stupid. The constant interruption of events, drama and movies by sales pitches are an insult to the human spirit, not to mention basic intelligence. Most people do not seem to care or notice the commercials anymore. Besides, ads are not pitched toward people of my age – 77. I guess the ad people think the younger folks are stupid and insensitive.

Reading the newspapers and magazines gives me the freedom to choose what I read and skip what I choose not to read. I bounce past most of the advertising. I do not have the privilege of hopping over the TV ads in the coverage of the Olympics.

The real question for me is not protesting the sponsors of the Olympics; the real question is about the Olympics at all. Men and women train arduously to become the best athletes possible so they can compete in the games. They push their bodies and spirits to the limit in order to be the best for themselves and for their country.

There was that Olympic swimmer from highly rated Stanford who couldn’t put together a full English grammatical sentence sprinkling it together with “like” “you know” and “whatever.” College graduates like pro footballers, basketball, baseball and hockey players sound like idiots when it comes to the language.

We are told athletics teach us the value of competition. I have often wondered about competition. Wasn’t competition for mortgage money that downed our economy these past two years? Wasn’t it competition for money that cause Airlines to not check the wiring on fuel lines that caused millions of passengers to be stranded in their travel? Isn’t it competition that allows factories and automobiles to continue to pollute the planet? Isn’t it competition that allows the rich to get richer and the poor poorer?

“Winning is the only thing,” said coach Vince Lombardi. “I can’t stand losing,” is the motivation for an Olympic swimmer, I read about. That is really the message of the Olympic games. Being number one is the goal in life for many. This idolatry of being number one leaves the rest of us wanting. Poor me, I’ll never be a CEO, a Bishop or a billionaire. Most of the people on the planet are not going to be the top in their profession, job or school. We teach our children by implication that if you are not number one, there is something wrong with you. The glorification of winning and being top dog damages the spirit and soul of the many people not mature enough to yet see that most people are not number one.

There is more to say and I may write about it in the future.


Blogger markley said...

Hi, Robert. You make some good points. As to tv, I recommend recording the programs and then fast-forwarding through the commercials as you watch. To me commercials are not only annoying and insulting, the thing that really makes me mad is that despite knowing how they work, I get sucked in. I am not as immune to advertising as I would like to be.

10:14 AM  
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