Olympic coverage

Every morning when I arrive at the train station I buy a newspaper. Usually it’s a San Francisco Chronicle. On days when I am feeling especially indulgent I will fork over the $1.50 for a Wall Street Journal. However, almost any newspaper with a sports section will do. Especially now that the Olympics are here!

Digression: Why I don’t just get a subscription I don’t know. I think it’s because I like physically handing over my money to the cute little old man who has set up shop at the station. He smiles at me, I buy a paper. In the meantime I support the flagging industry I desperately don’t want to see go under. But that is another post entirely.

The ritual begins with me studying the front page. I force myself to finish reading all of the top stories even if they don’t necessarily interest me. And lately, I find myself reluctantly skimming over nearly everything. These days the papers and online media seem saturated with bad news: stocks are falling, the dollar is weak, foreclosures are up, California is burning, another earthquake in China, we’re still in Iraq, we’re losing ground in Afghanistan, another win for big oil, another day we failed to steward the environment – we failed to be responsible stewards to each other.

After trying to absorb it all, I then turn to the one section I really care about. The sports pages. And this is where we begin today.

The Olympics officially begin tomorrow. And I will admit, I’m excited. However, most of the coverage leading up to it has been about the pollution in Beijing and the protests surrounding the Chinese human rights violations.

Now, I hate to sound totally insensitive, but I don’t care. I don’t like using the Olympics as a platform for political discussions. At least, not during the games. Save it for the years when we actually select the site of the future games. That seems more appropriate and a better way to actually get countries to change: You want to host the games? Then you have to play nice. No throwing sand at the people harboring different political and theological beliefs.

WIth all the negative coverage about the games, I feel like I don’t know any of the athletes participating except for Michael Phelps. And I’m pretty sure he isn’t the only athlete the U.S. is sending. Can someone please write about the athletes participating in trampoline? Who even knew that was an event?!?

The Olympics come around once every four years and feature what is supposed to be the best of the best competitors the world has to offer in one single unifying event. The games are not about politics, they are not about economics. In truth, they are not even about winning. The Olympics are about the one moment when a group of differences come together for the same goal: to compete.

The most compelling stories are always those of athletes who have suffered and overcome – athletes who never had a chance, athletes who beat the odds. One can only wonder how some of these men and women drew the strength to train while living in the rubble of war zones, in gymnasiums sagging under the weight of failed political and economic expectations.

Yet, somehow, they are competing on the world’s largest of stages. And in many ways, some of them likely survived because of their sport. In the days ahead, I hope the press focuses coverage on those who have sacrificed everything for the past four years, those who have nothing else to give and no clear future to go home to afterwards.

4 thoughts on “Olympic coverage

  1. See, I agree, but I also disagree.

    The Olympics are all about Sport. But, somewhere along the line they became about sport AND money. Endorsements, logos, ads, markets, impressions, exposure, and on and on.

    And where you have money, you have politics.

    So I totally agree, I think the players saying “I’ve come here to play, not to talk about politics” are totally correct. But if they want to make a statement then they should also politely decline to be a part of a multimillion dollar TV, billboard, internet campaign. They very well might compete beyond belief because they’ll be unrestrained by the weight of economics and the related politics.

    I personally believe there is room for both: sports and politics.

    Oh, and by the way, tomorrow night’s opening ceremonies are scheduled to last like 5 hours, there should be some time in there dedicated to athletes that beat the odds. Rightly so.

  2. I see your point. I think the Olympics could be an appropriate forum for athletes to make meaningful statements through action. Does anyone remember Jesse Owens?

    Anyhow, this one little tidbit bothered me. This morning I read that the 1992 basketball team draped American flags over their shoulders during the award ceremony – not because of any sort of national pride, but because they were trying to cover up the logos on the backs of their jerseys since some of them had commercial sponsorships with other companies. Kind of sad.

  3. My mother jumped for the Utah State trampoline squad. She never made the Olympic team, but I’m an avid fan of the sport. They never get the glory of the track and field stars nor the fame of the gymnasts. They don’t jump for Visa or Verizon, they jump for themselves and by themselves…because everyone else is watching those other events.

  4. Choosing the site is all about politics and really big money to the I.O.C. China was chosen because they “promised” to be better with civil rights, personal and religious freedom…but they still have the internet blocked, even to legitimate press covering the games. Protestors have to file for a permit to protest, which will get them fast tracked to the involuntary organ donor program. I think it’s disgusting that the world sports community will support this farce; remember when we boycotted the games in Russia? The athletes, unfortunately, are caught in the dilemma of wanting to compete, but needing the endorsements that allow them to train and promote themselves. Alas, there really are no amateurs in this gig. I’d rather watch the Penn Relays or college football.

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