I don’t like the olympics. Is that un-American? It certainly is unpopular. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I like competition. And I love sports. And I love love love the fact that people from all over the world come together to peacefully compete and have fun and meet and get to know other athletes from other countries. So, what’s there not to like?
Well, as long as you asked… I watched only a few minutes of the opening ceremonies. I didn’t even make it to the queen being choppered in through the roof ala James Bond. I was upset by the lavishness and extreme nature of, well, everything. With that amount of money and creativity, why is there still poverty, homelessness, hunger in the world (just to name a few unpleasantries)? We can all come together cheerfully, enthusiastically, for sports such as curling, badminton or beach volleyball. They can figure out how to fly an 86 year old royal, crashing through a roof, without causing her to have a heart attack, into a stadium filled with close to 100,000 people, but we can’t come together to actually do anything productive t0 make the world a better place? I don’t get it.
I also have a hard time with the extremist nature of single-minded focus on perfection of one physical activity to the exclusion of all other things. The teen from a local community who is competing in gymnastics, but hasn’t gone to high school in said community because the only thing she can do with her time is gymnastics, might I suggest, be missing out on something. Friends, movies, ice cream, the beach, real life. By the next olympics she will be too old, past her prime, unable to join the next, bigger extravaganza. Will it have been worth it? It’s a serious question. And yes, I realize that some of my vitriol has to do with the fact that I clearly harbor some sour grapes about the cynosure on superior physical abilities of some while others (my child as an example) work a billion times harder than the average person to do mundane daily activities like put on a sock. Yet we laud these perseverative people who can repeatedly put a ball in a hole or sweep a disc across ice, to the point where you can’t get away from it – exposure on television (round the clock broadcasts), radio, newspapers and magazines.
Every time there is an olympics, the following week the para-olympics are held in the same location, on the same tracks, fields and arenas. But they are not televised. What on earth does that say? Hmmm…
So what would I like to see? I don’t know. Best group hug? It isn’t that I think we shouldn’t have the olympics. I just think equal time should be devoted to trying to make the world a better place, acts of kindness, cheering people on to do things other than beat someone else. I like the idea of personal best, competing with oneself to do better. There is the rabbinic story of the sage, rabbi Zusya, who dies and goes before the heavenly tribunal. When he gets there he isn’t asked why in life he wasn’t more like Moses or Abraham or anyone else. As he stands before God, he is asked why he wasn’t the best Zusya he could have been. And hey, let’s face it, the olympics are way better than American Idol or those other reality shows.