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Old 04-13-2008, 11:51 AM
Rogthedodger Rogthedodger is offline
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Default Is it Time to Get Rid of the Olympics?...By Hartley Henderson

The worldwide protests that have occurred over the last couple of weeks, particularly the ones involving the Olympic torch relay, have shown once and for all that the original purpose of the Olympics is gone. Every city where the Olympic torch was being run saw protesters attack the flame in a symbolic gesture to demonstrate their disapproval of China's treatment of Tibet (among other reasons). While the cause may be noble, the Olympics were supposed to be apolitical. The truth, however, is that the Olympics are all about politics and the athletic events are almost secondary. The original intention of the Olympics was to provide a non-political spectrum for amateur athletes to demonstrate their skill and win medals for themselves and their country. Now the games are just political grandstanding in an effort to show how one country is morally superior to another, and the athletes are generally used as pawns.

For the Beijing games there has been talk about some countries boycotting the Olympics to try and coerce China to improve human rights and allow Tibet to be free, but boycotts clearly don't work. In 1980 the U.S. boycotted the games in Moscow to illustrate their disapproval of Russia's invading Afghanistan, and in turn the Soviets and East Germans boycotted the L.A. games in 1984. The only ones that really suffered as a result were the athletes. Furthermore, even the method by which countries are chosen to host the games are political. By all accounts Toronto's bid was far superior to Atlanta's bid for the 1996 games, but the IOC felt there was more to gain politically for them to award the Olympics to a U.S. city. Toronto's chances were sabotaged by a group called Bread Not Circuses who used the Olympic bid as a political maneuver to illustrate concerns about poverty in the city. As most will attest, the Atlanta games have gone down as one of the worst in modern times.

And with the Beijing bid there was never any real consideration given to other cities. Juan Antonio Samaranch wanted his legacy to be that as the person who gave China its first games, regardless of the fact that they had an atrocious human rights record, a terrible environmental record and it was uncertain they had the infrastructure to hold the games. Even in 2004 the games were given to Athens as a ploy to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Olympics, even though it was clear the Greek City did not have the infrastructure or money at the time to host the games properly. Of course the games have always been somewhat political, starting with Adolf Hitler's snub of Jesse Owens at the Berlin games in 1936. But at least the sports themselves were highlighted and the athletes came first and foremost. The 1972 Munich games will always be remembered for the murder of Israeli athletes, but through it all most can still vividly recall Mark Spitz winning 7 gold medals. The athletes were generally honest and hard working amateurs and their achievements were something kids in their respective countries could aspire to.

The same can't be said today. While many sports do involve amateurs, many more involve professionals. The miracle on ice in 1980, where a bunch of young no name amateurs from the United States beat the Soviet Union to win Olympic gold was indeed a feel good story and that one event helped build hockey in the United States. It's difficult, however, to feel the same sense of pride and accomplishment when the USA Dream Team, consisting of a group of professional basketball players that make close to a combined quarter billion dollars in annual salary are able to beat the crap out of a bunch of laborers from Latvia. To make matters worse, the pressure put on the athletes is astronomical. If a swim or diving meet took place in a local pool it would be difficult to get the public or media to care about it, let alone cover it. Yet when those same swimmers or divers go to the Olympics, the pressure is put squarely on their shoulders to win at any cost. And should the athlete or team underperform, as was the case with the first Dream Team or Mary Decker when she fell at the 1984 games, the athletes are ridiculed by the media and citizens for "embarrassing their country."

But more upsetting than that is the lengths with which athletes will go to nowadays to win. Not getting caught in a doping scandal in recent Olympics seems to be the exception rather than the rule. And it seems clearer every Olympics that the winners who pass doping tests are not necessarily clean, but indeed have better methods to hide their steroid use. The IOC demanding the return of medals from Marion Jones and her teammates this past week is indication that even athletes who people thought were clean have been caught up in the doping game. So the question has to be asked: how can a responsible parent or government urge their children to strive for perfection when doing so will almost certainly entail the eventual destruction of their bodies from drugs? If someone insists on being clean in any sport involving a lot of strength and/or exertion, it's almost certain they won't be able to compete for the win.

As well, in most team sports the "nationality" goal seems to be irrelevant since all good players already compete with each other in the major leagues. What's the big deal that Mats Sundin can win an Olympic medal for Sweden when he spends 3/4 of the year living and playing in Canada? Similarly, Peja Stojokovic will give Serbia a chance for a medal in Beijing, but to people in New Orleans he is one of theirs. So what exactly is accomplished when regular NBA players can score medals for countries they rarely visit anymore?

Of course since MajorWager is a betting site, we can't ignore the wagering value of the Olympics either. With the exception of team sports where bookies can make competitive odds as a result of point spreads, there is generally no value in 90% of the other events. The favorites tend to almost always win and the incredibly high odds make them unplayable. Few sportsbooks are willing to put up lines on events like weightlifting, wrestling, judo or gymnastics-because there is usually such a huge discrepancy between the competitors that they know they will lose money if they offer odds. As a result the only betting available is for fairly even sports like the marathon, kayaking and cycling which offer little in terms of spectator enjoyment (in the winter games for events like skiing and biathlon). Indeed watching the marathon or the biathlon can be about as exciting as watching paint dry. Arguably the most exciting event at the summer Olympics is the 100 meter dash, but it's hard to bet that comfortably knowing that steroids will be a factor and you aren't sure whether the athlete you're betting on will pass his urine test. In most cases the payouts are now only awarded at the time of the medal ceremony, so even if you pick the winner you could lose the bet if they test positive immediately following the race.

So again the question has to be asked: is the Olympics an ideal worth pursuing or have it outlived its purpose? If the reasoning for keeping the games is financial, forget it. Almost all games nowadays leave the countries in debt and astronomical security costs ensure the countries can't turn a profit. Even the boost to the economies after the game, which many like to talk about seems, to be a lie. Most people from Montreal, Athens and Atlanta will tell you that the games were a disaster and did little to promote tourism. All it did was leave the taxpayers with a big bill. So are the games still worth the cost and effort? What happens in Beijing in a few months should give a good indication.

04-13-2008
Hartley Henderson
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Old 04-13-2008, 12:00 PM
BuzzRavanaugh BuzzRavanaugh is offline
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Excellent, read. 1000% correct. It seems to be more and more political statement and football and less than about the athletes. The organization is tarnished and corrupt.

The TV coverage is produced like a made for tv movie.

I agree with Hartley.
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Old 04-13-2008, 12:40 PM
DrunkenGoon DrunkenGoon is offline
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Totally disagree.

Yeah, the olympics is not what it was in the 60's and 70's because all sports have changed and are being commercialized but there's a certain best vs the best in a one in 4 years situation that makes the drama what it is. Think about Perdita Felicien, the best 110m hurdler in the world for about 6 years, she trips and bye bye olympic goal. Sure, not so good for her, but what drama.

The olympics are about great stories and you will find one every day before the competition, during and long after. Think Miracle on Ice, think Perfect 10, think Cool Runnings, Torville and Dean in Sarajevo, Cuban domination of boxing events in the face of adversity, Vitaly Sherbo with 6 golds in Barcelona, think Kanu with a bad heart winning gold in Atlanta. How about Ben Johnson/Carl Lewis, sure the doping part sucked but remember the buildup to the olympics for that race in Seul? Heck, I don't go back that long but Jim Thorpe is an olympics legend. It's because the olympics that we know who Tonya Harding is. There are countless stories and controversies and we will find many in Beijing and in Vancouver and on from there. I don't think the olympics are what they used to be but they serve a purpose and I will get continue to up and watch in the middle of the night because it's great sports at it's (relatively) best.

As far as legacies, for every Montreal, there's a Seul and Barcelona success story. Look at what it did for Calgary, it's now an important base for Canadian winter sports in prep for future olimpians as well as a stop on a few international winter circuits.

I think it's the idiots that try to make the olympics a platform for their totaly unrelated issues that we shoud get rid of.

and buzz, please don't classify NBC's canned charade as Olympics coverage.
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Old 04-13-2008, 05:18 PM
GoodKarmaGuy GoodKarmaGuy is offline
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Quote:
Now the games are just political grandstanding in an effort to show how one country is morally superior to another, and the athletes are generally used as pawns.
Seeing it first hand I agree 100%. I believe you could add corporate sponsorship which raises billions and little seems to filter down to the but gives the sponsor an opportunity to pat themselves on the back telling everyone how great they are.

Calgary is a fine example of how the Olympics can help raise the profile of a city and they've been reaping the benefits ever since.

2010 Olympics in Vancouver seems like a disaster in the making. The cost is going to be at least 10 times what Calgary spent. I believe security alone will eclipse the total cost of the Calgary Olympics. THe Olympics in Vancouver is all about the capital projects, job creation (no mentions it's short term), sponsorship and political grandstanding than anything to do about the actual athletes which I hope changes as we get closer. In the end the taxpayers are going to be stuck with a MASSIVE bill for essentially a 2 week winter sporting event.
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Old 04-13-2008, 05:48 PM
drunkguy drunkguy is offline
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Old 04-13-2008, 05:59 PM
SlipperyPete SlipperyPete is offline
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The original spirit of the Olympics is that every 4 years countries are supposed to set their differences aside and come together as one for a few weeks.
Just because a few moron politicians lost sight of that, it doesnt mean that the Olympics as a whole should be chucked
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Old 04-13-2008, 06:01 PM
Mike Brennan Mike Brennan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrunkenGoon View Post
Totally disagree.

Yeah, the olympics is not what it was in the 60's and 70's because all sports have changed and are being commercialized but there's a certain best vs the best in a one in 4 years situation that makes the drama what it is. Think about Perdita Felicien, the best 110m hurdler in the world for about 6 years, she trips and bye bye olympic goal. Sure, not so good for her, but what drama.

The olympics are about great stories and you will find one every day before the competition, during and long after. Think Miracle on Ice, think Perfect 10, think Cool Runnings, Torville and Dean in Sarajevo, Cuban domination of boxing events in the face of adversity, Vitaly Sherbo with 6 golds in Barcelona, think Kanu with a bad heart winning gold in Atlanta. How about Ben Johnson/Carl Lewis, sure the doping part sucked but remember the buildup to the olympics for that race in Seul? Heck, I don't go back that long but Jim Thorpe is an olympics legend. It's because the olympics that we know who Tonya Harding is. There are countless stories and controversies and we will find many in Beijing and in Vancouver and on from there. I don't think the olympics are what they used to be but they serve a purpose and I will get continue to up and watch in the middle of the night because it's great sports at it's (relatively) best.

As far as legacies, for every Montreal, there's a Seul and Barcelona success story. Look at what it did for Calgary, it's now an important base for Canadian winter sports in prep for future olimpians as well as a stop on a few international winter circuits.

I think it's the idiots that try to make the olympics a platform for their totaly unrelated issues that we shoud get rid of.

and buzz, please don't classify NBC's canned charade as Olympics coverage.
I'm with you on this. Don't forget Jesse Owens' virtual "fuck you" to Hitler and his Master Race at the 1936 Games.
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Old 04-13-2008, 06:09 PM
Total Square Total Square is offline
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i think it will take a major hit after this bejing experience. the sponsorship money will dry up, and with it, the broadcast rights fees, which in turn will kill the golden goose.

then we can go back to something focused on the athletics
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Old 04-13-2008, 06:19 PM
drunkguy drunkguy is offline
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Originally Posted by Total Square View Post
i think it will take a major hit after this bejing experience. the sponsorship money will dry up, and with it, the broadcast rights fees, which in turn will kill the golden goose.

then we can go back to something focused on the athletics


or, on the flip side, the added controversy may actually make people tune in this time



nothing like a few dead Tibetans to jack up TV ratings
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Old 04-13-2008, 06:24 PM
Mike Brennan Mike Brennan is offline
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I was watching some talk show, I forget which, and they said the best way to stick it to China would be for the athletes to all dress in the traditional orange and red robes of the Tibetan monks during the opening ceremony march. Imagine the looks on the Chinese leaders faces if they saw that.
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Old 04-14-2008, 12:13 PM
Mr Memory Mr Memory is offline
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From Sunday's New York Times:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/13/op...bissinger.html
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Old 04-14-2008, 12:42 PM
Caitlyn Cwissy Caitlyn Cwissy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rogthedodger View Post
The worldwide protests that have occurred over the last couple of weeks, particularly the ones involving the Olympic torch relay, have shown once and for all that the original purpose of the Olympics is gone. Every city where the Olympic torch was being run saw protesters attack the flame in a symbolic gesture to demonstrate their disapproval of China's treatment of Tibet (among other reasons). While the cause may be noble, the Olympics were supposed to be apolitical. The truth, however, is that the Olympics are all about politics and the athletic events are almost secondary. The original intention of the Olympics was to provide a non-political spectrum for amateur athletes to demonstrate their skill and win medals for themselves and their country. Now the games are just political grandstanding in an effort to show how one country is morally superior to another, and the athletes are generally used as pawns.

So when Germany hosted the Olympics during Adolph Hitler's reign, that wasn't political? While you are right in theory about the Olympics, it is old news. Has been that way for generations. You can now add all this endorsement nonsense, drug testing and pro athletes to it.. It is what it is. No need to get rid of it. Just treat it like the farce that it is. Should be pretty entertaining the debacle this Olympics will be.
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Old 04-14-2008, 12:46 PM
buddyboy buddyboy is offline
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Quote:
original purpose of the Olympics is gone
you mean when only naked men were allowed to compete and it was basically a religious event with sacrifices and ceremonies honoring the Gods Zeus and Pelops?


The Real Story of the Ancient Olympic Games

The celebration of the Olympic Games in antiquity was an occasion for citizens of scattered Greek city-states to assemble. At the Games they discussed important political issues, celebrated common military victories and even formed political and military alliances.
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Old 04-14-2008, 01:28 PM
drunkguy drunkguy is offline
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Originally Posted by Mr Memory View Post
good article, thanks for the link
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Old 04-14-2008, 01:37 PM
Mr Falcone Mr Falcone is offline
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Ill tell ya one thing. This sending the NBA punks is a joke. I mean the Original Dream that was speacial. But these shitbirds that represent the US now days dont deserve it. Go back to sending the College kids, at least they will give 100% and enjoy the whole Olypic experience
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Old 04-14-2008, 01:59 PM
Hartley Hartley is offline
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you mean when only naked men were allowed to compete and it was basically a religious event with sacrifices and ceremonies honoring the Gods Zeus and Pelops?

Yes that's exactly what I mean . Obviously I'm referring to the modern olympics. The article was intended to spark debate which is what it's doing. I just wanted to write something a little different.
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Old 04-14-2008, 02:15 PM
Mr Falcone Mr Falcone is offline
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Great read, keep up the good work

Quote:
The miracle on ice in 1980, where a bunch of young no name amateurs from the United States beat the Soviet Union to win Olympic gold was indeed a feel good story and that one event helped build hockey in the United States. It's difficult, however, to feel the same sense of pride and accomplishment when the USA Dream Team, consisting of a group of professional basketball players that make close to a combined quarter billion dollars in annual salary are able to beat the crap out of a bunch of laborers from Latvia.
Yeah I wish they would go back to College All Stars.....
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Old 04-14-2008, 02:18 PM
stevo stevo is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Brennan View Post
I was watching some talk show, I forget which, and they said the best way to stick it to China would be for the athletes to all dress in the traditional orange and red robes of the Tibetan monks during the opening ceremony march. Imagine the looks on the Chinese leaders faces if they saw that.
Something strikes me about this. If they could do that it would be great.
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Old 04-14-2008, 03:07 PM
CrazyCanadian CrazyCanadian is offline
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Try to tell my friend who trains 30 hours a week to be in the olypmics that the Olymics should be canceled? His sport is his life. I assume many other athletes feel the same way.

Long live the Olympics!!!!
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