Monday, August 23, 2004

Sports and Jingoism

Brian is apparently less than taken with the Olympics. Oddly enough, so am I, so much so that I've yet to watch a single event.

I can't stand the Olympics.


You'd think as a sports fan, I'd eat this stuff up. But really, the Games are insufferable.

The only sports I watch in the Olympics are soccer and ice hockey. And that's because they are soccer and ice hockey, not because they're in the Olympics.

The Olympics, especially the summer version, are the triumph of pomp and hype and nationalist hysteria over sport. I can appreciate the grace of synchronized swimming or the sheer energy of the 100 meters, but not when it's accompanied by insufferable announcers imploring me to realize that I am witnessing the greatest performance in the history of humanity.

In addition, you have some people with the audacity to suggest that supporting anyone other than American athletes and teams is, get this, unpatriotic. It shows how the word 'patriotism' is so overused almost to the point of being meaningless if it can be invoked in the context of a sporting event.

You hear all this self-aggrandizing nonsense about the Olympics are all about humanity coming together as one people, blah blah blah. This is the biggest myth of all..

If it's about humanity coming together, why is it that, at the medals' podium, they raise three national flags and play the national anthem of the winner? Why is unity represented by separation?
Why indeed? Nationalism is a strange emotion, and its manifestation in competitions like the Olympics is particularly strange in an era in which athletes are routinely paid to switch nationalities as if they were moving between football clubs.