Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Let the Games be games

The TV commercials have been rampant in my part of the world and I can only imagine the frenzy in England and London in particular as we count down to Friday's opening ceremonies for the Summer Olympic Games and Paralympic Games.

A Facebook friend posted a link to this interesting viewpoint on the tallying of medals won by each country. It’s definitely worth a read. I read another article, which I unfortunately didn’t bookmark, that addressed the correlation between a nation’s relative wealth and its medal haul, too.

I have to admit that I’m content to watch competitions on TV, complete with commentary and slo-mo repetition, rather than fighting crowds for partial views from expensive nosebleed seats. And I’m glad that some other taxpayers are paying for all the venues this time around, as we’re still paying for ours from 2010, and will be for quite a while.

But of all the hype and advertising surrounding the Olympics, my favourite is the commercial from Tide, which is apparently the official laundry soap of the Games. (Here's the American version; I haven't found a YouTube of the Canadian version, which has a little less emphasis on red, white and blue.) Essentially the ads say that what matters more than the colour of medal you come home with, is the colours you brought with you, the colours of the country you represent.
I couldn’t agree more. I also believe we need to give more recognition to all of our Olympic athletes, medalists or not. The phrase “one of our best medal hopes” makes me shudder just thinking of the added stress that puts on the individual.

Every one of these athletes made it to the Olympics, for heaven’s sake. How far is that from what you and I can do?
Every one of these athletes made it to the Olympics, for heaven’s sake. How far is that from what you and I can do? (Okay, even further from what I can do, because I’m admittedly out of shape, but probably pretty far from what most of us can do.)

Yes, the Olympic Games are big business. No, they aren’t the purely amateur competition they once were. Yes, they need huge sponsorship to even happen.

But somewhere in all that big business we’ve lost sight of the thousands of individuals from around the world who have spent years training and striving to earn their appearance on the world track or playing field or, if they’re lucky, medal podium.

Whether they make it to the podium or come in with the slowest time in their competition, I say “Well done!” to each and every one of them. You worked damned hard to get here, and you deserve some glory. Here’s my share.

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