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Olympics Opening Ceremony: Sound and Fury Signifying Mostly Nothing

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I have just about had it with the hype concerning the Olympics Opening Ceremony , so much so that I am not watching it. Yes, I know that it is all being orchestrated by film director Danny Boyle, he of Trainspotting and Slum Dog Millionaire fame, but maybe that is my problem with the ceremony and whole Olympic thing in general. People are so excited about the spectacle factor, they have forgotten the most important thing about the games: the athletes.

Yes, the athletes will be featured in the “parade” but that’s just an after thought. The sparkle and glitter and bang-zoom is what the people want, right? They want the halftime show at the Super Bowl, which sometimes seems more important than the game itself. So we will get the shower of light and crash of cymbals and pounding of drums, but it’s basically a flash in the pan. Boyle has said he wants “to show the best of us,” meaning Britain I suppose, but also feature an international flavor to the proceedings. Can’t we go to Disney and sit on the “It’s a Small World” ride and be done with it?

If I sound jaded I think a report I heard on the radio this morning put me over the top. Some official was quoted as saying that this Opening Ceremony will costs “tens of millions of dollars.” When questioned about that he said “But it’s worth it.” I don’t know who this guy was, but he had a British accent and sounded like that old guy who did the Smith Barney ads long ago. I can’t shake the feeling about money ruining the Olympics and a camel going through the eye of a needle and all that kind of thing.

You see, I don’t like that the “amateur” factor has been thrown away from the Olympics. Now the athletes are cash machines, with all sorts of endorsements and the event itself being a cash cow for the chosen city. This time it is London and, yes, this New Yorker was a little annoyed that my city lost out to that city, but now that I see what is going on, I think my town got off lucky. All the security problems and many other annoying issues are London’s now. Hope everyone enjoys riding the Tube with all those extra tourists and their maps (like London doesn’t have enough of that in summer as it is).

I really don’t like Carmelo Anthony (and other professional players) being on the U.S.A. basketball team. I don’t like it at all. Why are professional athletes involved now? The answer is money, pure and simple, and it makes me sick when I think of the amazing Jim Thorpe, voted the greatest athlete of the twentieth century. Jim lost all of his Olympic medals because it was discovered that he once was paid to play semi-pro baseball before competing. The International Olympic Committee restored his medals, but the IOC was thirty years too late (Thorpe died in 1953).

Unfortunately, the Olympics now generate a huge amount of revenue and to me it’s all tainted. While I would like the focus to be on the athletes, you just have to wonder about how some of them got there in the first place, or why guys like Anthony are there at all. The original intent of the Olympic games was to bring the known world together over something that is a universal language, because everyone appreciates the way games are played and team accomplishments; however, I wonder now if it isn’t just a run for the gold and not the gold medals themselves.

Millions and millions of people will be watching the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics on Friday, but I won’t be one of them. To me it’s all sound and fury signifying nothing. I don’t know about you, but I think the IOC could think of lots of better ways to use tens and tens of millions of dollars than on a frivolous show, maybe like providing training, education, and food to potential athletes in impoverished countries. Instead we get a spectacle, a bloated and unnecessary array of dancers, singers, and big and little drummer boys.

This is not Las Vegas; it’s the Olympics. Too bad people have lost sight of that and what the games are supposed to be all about. Sadly, I am not sure what that is anymore, and I think I am not alone. Talk about the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat!

Photos: Boyle and company-guardian.co.uk; Jim Thorpe-sportsillustrated.cnn.com

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About Victor Lana

Victor Lana has published numerous stories, articles, and poems in literary magazines and online. His books In a Dark Time (1994), A Death in Prague (2002), Move (2003), The Savage Quiet September Sun: A Collection of 9/11 Stories (2005) and Like a Passing Shadow (2009) are available online and as e-books. He has won the National Arts Club Award for Poetry, but has concentrated mostly on fiction and non-fiction prose in recent years. He has worked as faculty advisor to school literary magazines and enjoys the creative process as a writer, editor, and collaborator. He has been with Blogcritics since July 2005, has edited many articles, was co-head sports editor with Charley Doherty, and now is a Culture and Society editor. He views Blogcritics as one of most exciting, fresh, and meaningful opportunities in his writing life.
  • Arch Conservative

    I’m right with you Victor.

    Have you seen Ryan Lochte’s “diamond grill?”

    Not only was Lochte showing off this ridiculous contraption during his interviews but immediately after winning gold yesterday he popped it in his mouth and started mugging for the cameras.

    Oh and when he’s not wearing his grill he’s tweeting about his bright green sneakers.

    Lochte is the epitome of the shallow, crass, materialistic, superficial, vulgar side of American culture.

    He may train hard but as far as I’m concerned he’s an embarassing joke. Would it be unpatriotic of me to root against this jackass?

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    With regard to the money aspect: it depends on the sport.

    You’re not going to get rich being an Olympic archer, modern pentathlete or taekwondo player, for example.

  • http://cinemasentries.com/ El Bicho

    “You see, I don’t like that the “amateur” factor has been thrown away from the Olympics.”

    Considering Communist countries have been reportedly subsidizing athletes as far back as 1960, this isn’t a new phenomenon.

  • Baronius

    Yes.

    The 1980 Miracle on Ice is right up there with Jesse Owens’ victory in 1936, a victory of the athlete over the ideological state. It meant something. The latest highly-paid Dream Team in basketball means nothing.