I've been watching some of the Olympics but not too much. Maybe I'm just old and cynical. I like the idea of young, strong, healthy athletes, from all over the World, gathering together every four years to compete against each other. It seems like it's become perverted by the process though.
It is clear that many of those competing have not been allowed to have normal childhoods. Many, if not most, have spent much of their young lives training virtually nonstop, on six and seven day a week schedules, for years on end, often secluded away from family and friends, with only their trainers and fellow athletes as companions. Huge amounts of money must be expended on this training. Every possible performance enhancing accoutrement is utilized. Many have undoubtedly taken growth and strength enhancing drugs and weaned off just long enough to test negative before competition. Many are nursing injury and impairment that will hinder them in the future or even shorten their lives and possibly long term psychological damage as well. This point was slammed home to me during a past Olympics, when I saw a young man in his mid twenties, with the protruding brow ridge, splayed teeth, huge muscles and insulin dependent diabetes, of a long term, chronic steroid abuser win multiple medals. This young man is the scion of one of the richest families in America. What could he possibly have to gain from this regime, that will certainly leave him crippled, stupid and in an early grave.
China has spent an astronomical amount of money to prepare for and promote these games. Money that could be better spent improving the lives of her citizens. The corporate and commercial sponsorship of the Olympics has reached obscene levels. For all of this, not very many people went to these games. Even with the clever camera work by the television technicians, it is apparent that many of the events are sparsely attended, at best and mostly by locals who were enticed by cheap or even free tickets.
On the positive side, the fierce nationalistic jingoism that characterized the games through the Cold War era, seems to have subsided, at least somewhat.
I do not belittle the efforts or achievements of these young athletes. I hope that the participation in these games enriches their lives. I hope that they are rewarded financially by all of the commercialization and hype. The money is going to flow anyway and I can think of no more worthy recipients than the athletes who participated.
For me, I would rather watch a sand lot baseball game on a Spring evening at a public park. I would rather see a coed touch football game on the lawn of a college dormitory after a long day of classes on a Fall afternoon. I would rather watch kids vault into a swimming hole, from a rope tree swing, on a Summer day. I'd even rather watch a bunch of drunken Canuks beating each other senseless with hockey sticks on a frozen pond in February. The Olympics have become professional sports. Professional sports are a venue for gamblers and shills, not athletes. People that watch professional sports are suckers , not spectators.