I Love The Olympics Even Though They’re Bad


#1

I spent this past weekend with family, and boy howdy, did we watch a lot of Olympics. We watched slopestyle, marveling at the tricks and big air. We gawked at giant slalom, speed skating and bobsledding, and excitedly recounted some of our favorite Olympic stories from years past.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/neq4wx/i-love-the-olympics-even-though-theyre-bad

#2

Correction: The world cup took place in 2014, not 16.


#3

It’s probably for my own good that I don’t have cable, because it’s really hard for me to overcome my guilt & cynicism towards the Olympics. It doesn’t help that I’m so far removed from the world of cable TV in general. I can barely sit for 10 minutes without getting exhausted by the shear force of all of the advertising.

I was at an anime convention this past weekend, though, so while eating at the hotel bar and hanging out in hotel rooms, I managed to catch most of Yuzuru Hanyu’s figure skating performances. So I guess despite all the negative momentum I had built up, my brief experience with the 2018 Winter Olympics was suuuper inspiring.


#4

I have many of the same issues with the Olympics as Danielle. In fact every time around I think “No way am I going to watch” but then as soon as they start I go “Okay, how am going to go about watching” (I don’t have any traditional way to watch TV). I also have issues with the IOC due to stuff like their overagressive protection of their trademarks. I mean, they actually went after a forum thread on Ravelry titled “Ravolympics”.

This time I’ve been watching via streaming BBC with a UK VPN. This is the year that I’ve fallen in love with curling. So much in fact that I’ve actually sought out a way to watch curling matches outside of the Olympics. Thankfully there’s a YouTube channel called World Curling TV that seems to post full matches from every major tournament.


#5

watching athletes at their absolute peak compete and complete feats of superhuman speed, strength, technique and poise is hard to not get excited about, at least for me.

This line reminded me of one of the (possibly relatively progressive but still extremely not good enough) policies around the IOC and also how it (and even lies around pretending it is even less progressive than it is) is weaponised by transphobes (and people with discriminatory views of intersex people).

All Olympic athletes have atypical bodies. As one Olympian says in the article, they’re all “freaks of nature.” They may be endowed naturally with atypical levels of fast-twitch muscle, or unusually flexible joints, or huge hands, or extraordinarily long legs. We do not police these biological differences, or require that to compete in the Olympics, you must have an average body. We don’t randomly pick citizens of each nation to compete in international sporting events–we get to see average people running for the bus all the time. We don’t find this exciting, and it’s the very atypicality of elite athletes’ bodies that enthralls us. It’s only this very specific type of atypicality–being a woman with hormonal or genital or chromosomal variance–that has been policed. And it’s policed intensively, intrusively, punitively.

[TW: reference to FGM] Where I am there have been several years of very high profile campaigning against FGM. It is always discussed as a racialised issue (something that is contrasted to “traditional British/European” attitudes). The reporting around Rio and athletes coming forward about the surgeries pushed on them in order to be allowed to compete raised serious concerns about exactly how sports are requiring women to undergo completely unnecessary invasive surgeries or start taking drugs with no health benefits as a condition of competing.


#6

I adore the Olympics. I love the competition and the obsessing over these activities that you don’t think about for even a second in the intervening four years. So many great stories to hear, both personal and sporting. It’s fantastic.

Rio was particularly unfortunate, but I I think it’s worth backing up and recognising that a major part of the problem with Rio was with Brazil themselves. Misrepresentation of their ability to hold the event without crippling the economy, unbelievably poor organisation and criminal negligence. The Olympic Committee should have been on top of their due diligence, and they clearly weren’t. Which is bad, and compounded by the World Cup in such close proximity.

However the Olympics itself is not inherently bad. London in 2012 was uniformly successful; from the regeneration of the East End of London that badly needed some attention as well as the execution of the event as well as the high spirits it generated in the UK at the time as well as the legacy it left in its wake, with sporting venues that are still in use or at least that have been re-appropriated for alternate use. This is the ideal and is difficult to replicate, but it should be the goal for each Olympics.

Also I wouldn’t feel too bad about these Korean Olympics. Although the opening ceremony stadium will only be used 4 times before being demolished, amazingly. Otherwise they either already have the venues or will make good use of them, from what I’ve heard.

The Olympic Committee should not pass the buck and should do everything within their powers to ensure any host is valid, with no excuses.

However if you really want to get mad at someone go for Fifa. Their World Cup host selection is wilfully corrupt and criminal and seemingly getting worse.


#7

Yea the Olympics are… definitely bad. I’ve reported a bit on forced displacement in Sochi and it wasn’t pretty. Generally all these huge “travelling” sports events are just straight up bad for everyone involved apart from the governing organisations, giant corporations and the athletes themselves. It’s exploitative and only makes money for foreign sponsors.

I have watched some of the ongoing Olympics but I don’t seek it out. Only really watch it when I’m with my parents basically. I can usually compartmentalise my feelings about this stuff if it’s a FIFA or UEFA tournament because I still love football, but even then I am so past caring about “national” competition that I just watch it for the love of the sport and to support individual players.

Another added thing is that being Russian, watching our athletes still compete in these Olympics despite all the overwhelming doping evidence is kind of a bummer. Sure, maybe some of them aren’t doping, but if even the curling dude is, then I doubt there are many who aren’t. The fact that they let in a team called “Olympic Athletes from Russia” and there are Russian flags and stuff everywhere when that team plays speaks volumes about IOC.


#8

I definitely have a complex relationship with the Winter Olympics.
Until fairly recently, I spent the last 10 years of my life living in ski resorts. I even bounced from Northern to Southern hemispheres between Japan and New Zealand in order to chase the winter for 2 years straight so you could say I was kinda keen on skiing.

That’s why I find it so painful to watch the BBC’s coverage of some of the events, particularly the pipe and slopestyle events. The commentators come out with some of the most inane drivel for example “the last thing they want to do is fall right now.” during the men’s snowboard halfpipe.
They barely ever seem to be able to call the tricks until they’re watching a slow-mo replay either.
I understand that for a lot of viewers a barrage of technical terms would be overwhelming, but I think the BBC goes too far in dumbing the commentary down when it comes to the freestyle disciplines to the point where it becomes completely unengaging.

As a side note: I hope that Elizabeth Swaney’s offensively bad borderline-spoof performance in the half-pipe makes some more women realise how good they are. I knew at least 10-20 women in every ski town I lived in who can at least spin out of the pipe! I also don’t really buy her spiel of “see, now anyone can do it!” because I bet the fact that she’s loaded helped her cut through the red tape just a tiny wee bit and also a lot of those women I know who are great skiers accept that they will never compete because they have to work really hard for not a lot of money just to be able to keep doing it, so I can see how it might seem like a bit of a slap in the face to see her competing.

This is a dangerous topic for me because I could just keep ranting and that’s without even touching on the human cost of the games!


#9

Even the Beijing Olympics had their problems back in 2008, especially with a lot of the residents in poorer areas of the city being displaced to make way for the stadium.


#10

The Olympics are a beautiful high point of sport and grace and agility and power and people doing incredible things, that will pretty much only take place in authoritarian states on the backs of oppressed and displaced peoples for the rest of our lives because the IOC demands a new city in sacrifice every two years, like Moloch but for poor folks.

I’m pretty sure that North Korea will host the Olympics before America does again. The IOC has dug too greedily, and too deep.

Also, goddamn is NBC garbage at showing me the Olympics


#11

LA’s hosting the summer olympics in 10 years, so unless, like, North Korea annexe France before then I think your prediction might turn out false.

I also feel like, especially since Sochi and Rio (and the success of London in comparison to them), the IOC’s been doing better at giving it to cities that can sustainably, affordably host them without displacing entire people-groups (possibly Beijing 2022 notwithstanding). The next two summer olympics are in Tokyo and Paris, the next two World Cups are in Russia and Qatar, to give you an idea of how badly they could be doing.


#12

Eddie the Eagle wasn’t the first person from the UK to compete at ski jumping in the Olympics.


#13

I used to really enjoy watching the Olympics. This was especially the case for the Summer games because it was my main opportunity to watch swimming and water polo on cable in the U.S. (my childhood sports of choice). I haven’t seen a minute of the 2018 Winter Games, and it feels good not to be party to an exploitative institution that, to me at least, seems to deploy amazing feats of athleticism for the sake of corporate interests and jingoistic spectacles of excess. Many cities are rejecting playing host to future olympics, something I learned about in an interview with Anne Orchier on Citations Needed. Here’s the analysis of No Olympics LA, a grassroots effort to prevent LA from hosting the Olympics: https://www.nolympicsla.com/analysis