Johann wrote a post this morning that caught my interest so I thought I’d reply here:
First, let me be clear that I don’t care if you speak ill of the Olympics 🙂 But I did find your post interesting.
On Rooting for U.S.A.
I think that most Americans are able to separate their love of country from the decisions their policy-makers have made in the past. Otherwise there would be nobody rooting because everyone would have disagreed with some decisions made sometime in our past.
International politics and the Olympics will always be heavily intertwined, but setting aside domestic politics to enjoy good competition is pretty easy to do – for most.
Since when has any sport not been about competition, and therefore beating your opponents? If this weren’t the case, I suppose they should only show the first 4 seconds of a sprint. Hell, why even get on the track then? You even mention remembering when Olympics showcased the world’s best amateur athletes. If winning doesn’t matter, how do you define Best? Winning implies beating others, you can’t have it both ways. If you want to win, you want to beat others.
It’s Sport. It’s about watching amazing athletic feats and seeing the joy of years of hard work paying off. And in the end, if it’s your country’s athlete atop the podium, all the better.
On Professional Athletes
I agree that putting professional athletes out there takes something away from the games. However, it seems the professional/amateur line is getting more and more blurred. For example, do you take into account endorsements? I just read that after the ’04 Olympics, Phelps received some $5Million in endorsements, should that matter? I don’t think so, but it does muddy the waters doesn’t it?
Agreed that doping is cheating. I think that the athletes should be tested aggressively, and have some blood stored so it can be tested using better testing capabilities in the future. I’d think that would provide a real deterrent – sure you probably won’t get caught today, but I bet they’ll be able to find that substance in your blood a few years from now.
I don’t think I’ve heard anyone mention that if Phelps hadn’t won every single gold, that he would have been considered a failure. That’s just laughable to me. It’s amazing to be so good at so many events, simple as that. I can’t recall ever watching the games with someone that got upset that the USA lost an event – it’s usually just a “Darn!”, and we move on.