Pilkerton's Prognostications

This blog contains some of my past articles for the school newspaper and other musings I feel like posting. Beware liberals!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

What the Olympics mean to us


Every four years the summer Olympics rolls around and creates a diversion from the lull in the baseball season for us spoiled Americans. To me, the Olympics is little more than a global show of America's dominance. To my knowledge, the rest of the world takes these games seriously and their medalists return home as national heroes. Not so in this country, where if an Olympic athlete is lucky or cute enough, they may land a spot on a limited run of Wheaties boxes and maybe, just maybe, a second guest spot on Letterman. I have to wonder what the fascination is with the Olympics. For the past few days, everywhere I've gone I've heard people babbling on about 'our' swimmers or our dreadful basketball team and of course, those cute little gymnastics midgets. I understand that the Olympics used to mean something. When the United States beat Russia for the gold it meant something, when the US destroyed the world with our Dream Team in 92 it meant something, but does it still mean anything to us?
It happens every Olympics; our country becomes enthralled in certain Olympic events, usually gymnastics, swimming, and basketball. Not once over the past few weeks have I heard someone emphatically report the latest standings in Skeet shooting or Archery. Instead we idolize these gymnastics children who are dressed like hookers and swing from bars effortessly and get ridiculous point deductions if they let themselves succumb to gravity when dismounting. I don't personally understand our national fascination with these vertically challenged children who are, most likely, only living out their parent's dreams of gymnastic glory. Perhaps I'm an Olympic purist, but if the modern Olympic games are supposed to be modeled on the ancient Greek games, where the hell does gymnastics fit in? I understand some sports are added because of modern demand, such as basketball and baseball, but where is there a professional gymnastics league? Did the ancient Greeks use gymnastics in their lives? Was Agamemnon doing tucks on the uneven bars when leading the charge against Priam and Hector?
Anyways, getting back on track for at least a sentence or two, why is it that every time I subject myself to watching these children I inevitably see some girl crying. It is that emotional? Perhaps because they are at the emotionally stable ages of 10- 15 they are prone to letting their feelings get the best of them. Or perhaps their cries are cries of inner frustration manifesting themselves. Maybe when little Olga Khaminshininiva of Generic Former Soviet Country is crying she is crying because she has no life, she has been shackled to uneven beams and been robbed of a normal childhood on the ground. Perhaps it is because her entire village is putting pressure on her to win so they will become the hottest new tourist spot. Regardless, these little freaks have enough problems growing up in the world; they don?t need the pressure of Olympic glory put on their little shoulders. By pushing these kids in to the spotlight we are making them hit the climax of their lives at the ripe old ages of ten or maybe fifteen. Think about it, what if your greatest achievement in life came when you were eleven. What happens when the rest of your life doesn't live up to that moment where you are crying your little heart out atop your pedophile coach's shoulder?
This Olympics even Gymnastics has taken a back seat to the chic sport of swimming. I actually have little to rant against when it comes to this competition. I think everyone knows how hard it is to do some of those strokes from our high school swimming classes. Well all of us except for the fat kids who spent the entire class in the shallow end feeling shy because they were in their bathing suits. It appears that every Olympics there is the generic media darling who wins medals in about 28 separate events that are all basically the same thing.
Of course we must not forget the mighty fall from grace the United States Basketball team has suffered in this Olympiad. At this particular time, the Basketball medal rounds haven?t been reached but regardless of the results, our Basketball team has brought shame to us in an event where we were previously nothing less than dominant. The funny thing about this is that no one is surprised. The Olympic Basketball committee, after being shunned by most of the NBA's superstars, assembled a team of mostly high school prima donnas who have no concept of team basketball and are even more clueless when it comes to the fundamentals of the game. If the Olympics had a slam-dunk contest I'm sure we would win hands down, but when it comes to a team concept and the idea of role players we are abysmal. Perhaps the Achilles heel of this incarnation of USA Basketball is the ability to shoot a basketball. Perhaps it is asking too much of these NBA all-stars, but the common man would consider the bility to shoot a high school range 3-pointer would be a prerequisite for an Olympic Basketball team.
Despite my opinions, I watch the Olympics with some enthusiasm. Of course there is a part of me that beams with pride when the United States medals in some event, but mostly I watch because it is funny. Nothing is quite like watching the Ethiopian gymnastics team and finally figuring out why no one in the country eats because they spend all their damn money on balance beams and little shorts.
Much like everything in this world, the Olympics has become nothing but a corporate advertising orgy and a two-week infomercial for the host country, but I'm sure it'll stick around for a few more years and we'll always have those heroes to grace our cereal boxes and give inspiration to aspiring Lithuanian beach volleyball stars.


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