This weeks topic was my suggestion. I simply wondered what my cohorts thought about the Olympics - are they worthwhile?
I have always been a fan of the quadrennial athletic competition I always enjoyed watching the swimming competition and the field events like the shot put, discus and javelin. The fellow that was my best man when Lynn and I got married was an outstanding swimmer and he was very active in AAU swimming. Being a big guy I naturally gravitated toward the big guy events - shot put and discus and the more nuanced javelin.
I also loved the pomp and circumstance that surrounded the games. Watching the teams enter the arena in the colorful colors of their countries was always a kick.
Things changed in the sixties - the supposedly amateur athletes became much more as the eastern block teams became essentially professionals, supported year round by their countries. It became tougher and tougher for the countries that played by the rules so-to-speak, including the US. That made the so-called Miracle on Ic e all the more miraculous when the truly amateur US hockey team upset the Soviet hockey team in the 1980 Olympics held in Lake Placid, NY. Here,s the last minute of that historic event.
That game inspired a nation. Mine. It also solidified my love of ice hockey which in turn made me a bigger fan of the winter Olympics than the summer games.
Eventually real professional athletes were allowed to participate in the Olympic Games. Not surprisingly the US became almost unbeatable in basketball and in the winter games Canada, Russia the US, Sweden, Finland and the Czech Republic became the best teams. Not surprisingly, the National Hockey League teams were comprised primarily of players from those countries. But to me it made perfect sense for an event meant to showcase the best athletes actually allow the best athletes to compete.
Since the Berlin games of 1936 the games were used to promote a political agenda. Jesse Owens ruined Adolph Hitler's plans in those games. President Jimmy Carter led a boycott of the 1980 summer games held in Moscow too protest the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.the 1984 games held in Los Angeles were boycotted by the Soviets and 14 of their allies.
The 1972 Munich Games included the massacre of
eleven Israeli team members and officials by the Black September terrorist organization.
Yet the games continue. They have become financial disasters for some host nations but the audiences are still there. People still love to root for their teams. Most participants know they have little or no chance of winning - the want to compete with and against the best. A Jamaican bobsled team? Remember Eddie the Eagle Edwards?
I say a resounding YES to the Olympic Games. For a couple of weeks every two years (the winter and summer games are held two years apart, maintaining the four-year cycle of each competition) we get a brief respite from the problems of the world. It is not much but it is something. And you can secretly root for the underdogs. There is almost always a major upset in some event.
Check what my cohorts have to say - Ramana & Pravin