Longing for an Olympic reprieve

The Olympics long ago outgrew the things that made them great

OK, volunteering to write a column may not have been the smartest thing to do. But, you know, I kind of like seeing the range of ideas that my colleagues come up with. But then, I am not all that sure the reverse is true, and writing a column is harder work than you might think.

So, aye, volunteering doesn’t speak well for how efficient my brain cells were being this morning. Efficient enough to volunteer, perhaps, but not really working well enough to come up with a subject.

So, I resort to sharing a deep, dark secret. It’s not something I would normally admit in public, but, well … I hate the Olympics. There, I said it. Let the public shaming begin.

But, you know, I don’t think I am alone. Judging from the unhappy expression on her face during the opening ceremonies last Friday, Her Royal Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was also neither amused nor impressed. So, maybe as I am running from the tar and feathers you are preparing for me, I can console myself that I am at least running with an elite crowd.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I hate sports. I am far from being an athlete, but I can still appreciate the skill and ability of participants. As a photographer, I appreciate the great images that are made at sporting events.

No, my problem is that the Olympics long ago outgrew the things that made them great. Instead of amateur athletes, we have pros, some of whom have been training full time since they were children. Instead of a pure celebration of sport, we have an impossibly expensive event that spends as much time celebrating corporate sponsors as it does the athletes. Seriously, McDonalds as an Olympic sponsor? Coca-Cola? Heineken as the official beer?

OK, can’t argue with the last one, but the others are like big tobacco being the official sponsor for Better Breathing.

And then there is the meaningless pageantry. I can’t figure out what these fantastic (read: fantastically expensive) opening ceremonies have to do with athletic competition, especially the London version. Mary Poppins battling Lord Voldemort? Considering Britain’s incredible, and long, history of culture, music and literature, they decided this was the best way to represent the nations?

I think I understand the pained expression on Her Majesty’s face now.

Then there is the corruption scandals and/or drug use by the athletes. We are now at the point where no athlete can turn in an outstanding performance without immediately being accused of steroid use, blood doping or … well, it’s a long list nowadays, isn’t it?

The unseen war being waged between those whose job it is to test athletes and those helping them use banned substances  isn’t unfamiliar. New performance enhancing treatments and drugs are developed, so tests are developed; then the other side develops ways to mask them; more tests for masking agents; the cycle goes on.

Same thing happened with hackers and security developers, each side upping the ante again and again. The result: an unspoken admission that no matter how good computer security is, there is no guarantee it won’t be breached. Eventually, I suspect, performance enhancements will similarly become an accepted fact of life in the Olympic world.

But what really gets me is the talk. Endless talk about the Olympics; before, during and after. By the time we actually get to the competition, once every couple of years, it’s no wonder all the seats in the stands are empty. Why watch, when the pundits have been telling you what the results of the competition would be for the last year?




Steve Kidd is a reporter with the Penticton Western News.



Just Posted

Geordie Fife exits the dunk tank during 2017’s Discovery House Father’s Day festivities at Skaha Lake Park. The fundraiser helps raise awareness of the work done at the house and break down the stigma associated with addiction. (Western News File)
Discovery House Father’s Day fundraiser goes digital

The addiction recovery program will be rolling out videos ahead of the fundraiser

The proposed design of the five-storey building on Front Street. (City of Penticton)
Five-storey building proposed for Penticton’s Front Street

It will be the second time the proposal will head to council

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from St. Eugene’s residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

RCMP thanked the public for assistance in finding Benjamin Archie, last seen in Princeton. (RCMP)
Missing Chilliwack man found safe and sound

The 80-year-old had walked away from his home in Chilliwack

57-year-old Kathleen Richardson was discovered deceased in her home Wednesday, June 9, 2021. Her death is considered a homicide and connected to the slain brothers found on a Naramata forest road. (Submitted)
Naramata community in shock as condolences pour in for homicide victim Kathy Richardson

Richardson was well liked in the community, a volunteer firefighter with a home-based salon

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

(Heather Lueck image)
Crash north of Enderby knocks out power, slows Highway 97A traffic

A witness captured footage of a medical helicopter landing at the scene

The RCMP presence in Central Okanagan public schools is being reviewed by the board of education. (File photo)
RCMP presence welcomed in Central Okanagan public schools

Staff survey feedback overwhelmingly positive from students, staff and parents

Most Read