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