Olympic Games aren’t what they used to be

Thomas Gallick

Ah, the beauty and grandeur of the Olympic Games. Can you think of anything more um . beautiful or . grandiose?

Actually, yes I can. I’m not saying the Olympics aren’t addictive, watchable and occasionally thrilling, but who can remember the last time the games really had any real impact on the world?

We used to have Jesse Owens disproving Nazi Germany’s theories on racial superiority right in their backyard, and John Carlos and Tommie Smith striking a blow for equality by protesting race relations in the United States.

Now we have horses on drugs. That’s right, four of the equestrian teams were disqualified for doping in Beijing.

Think about that for a second. Is there anything anyone has seen in the Olympics in the last 20 years that makes up for the sheer insanity of Norwegians possibly having their medals revoked in a quasi-sport because their horses can’t pass a urine test?

And don’t give me Michael Phelps. The reappearance of Mark Spitz with one more medal and one less glorious mustache means little to me and will mean even less after the Olympics are over.

I can’t remember the last time someone even mentioned his name in a year divisible by four.

I will give all the Olympic boosters credit for the U.S. men’s ice hockey victory in 1980, but that was 28 years ago. There is no such memory for my generation.

All we have are drugged-up horses, drugged-up track stars and judges that can be bought and sold in half of the sports. And sure, it’s great to see goofy sports like water polo and curling every four years on TV, but not more often than that.

Let’s just call out the Olympics for what they are now: a scheme cooked up by the countries of the world to milk its people out of spare change for souvenir pins and dolls of multiple mascots.

The idea that the Games are a force for good is a sham too, with the International Olympic Committee terrified to make any kind of stand that might offend anyone.

China has a history of human rights abuse and tacitly supports the government of Sudan’s policies on genocide? Let’s give them a huge money-making sporting event and maybe they’ll learn from their mistakes on their own.

Some of the gymnasts have been documented in newspapers as being underage? Let’s look the other way until well after the competition.

Everyone with a pulse can see Roy Jones Jr., the 1972 U.S. men’s basketball team and the 2004 Canadian figure skating pair were robbed of their gold medals? Let’s not give the first two the medals they deserve or even deliberate on the matters, and let’s just give out two meaningless sets of gold medals in the third case.

I’m not saying I hate sports or even competitions between nations, but the Olympics are so flawed they need to be dissolved. If any other sporting competition had half the controversies the Olympics has had in its history, the public would have grown disillusioned and ignored it years ago.

But every time the Olympics come back, we’re met with all the phony pomp and ritual and viewers are suckered in. They return after a four-year absence just like a new candidate for president and provide just about as many good ideas.

Contact sports reporter Thomas Gallick at [email protected].