North of the 400

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The most (Blank) Olympics ever

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Michael Phelps is the most dominant swimmer ever. Canada is having the worst Olympics ever. The opening ceremonies were the most fake ever. Etc, etc, etc.

Seems like these, the 2008 Summer Olympics, are the most (blank) Olympics ever.

No mattr where one looks, seeing or eharing about how dominant the Men’s swimming team is cannot be overlooked. And while they are doing exceptionally well, one wonders if the media – especially the US media – has gone more then a little overboard in their touting of Micael Phelps as the greatest ever.

Really, he is? Better then Jim Thorpe? How about Babe Dickerson? Are you telling me that because he has shattered records while wearing a swimsuit that dramatically cuts friction, because he has training regime that was unthinkable 20 years ago, because he has better dietary habits then any Olympic athlete before him…

Are you honestly saying with a straight face that he is the best ever?

True, he is shattering records. And yes, he has gone undefeated thus far in the Olympics. His team had a dramatic come-from-behind win over France a few nights ago.

But is it really fair to say he’s better then Jesse Owens? He succeeded in harsher times, with less training, less-advanceed equipement and under more pressure – the middle of Nazi Germany in 1936. A country where he couldn’t sit on a bus wherever he wanted? Where he was called an ape by the national press?

Did you really think that the US was under any kind of pressure when they beat the French a couple days ago? That’s not pressure. Jesse Owens winning in Nazi Germany was pressure. Mark Spitz competing in Munich after Israeli athletes were abducted and killed was pressure. If only they just had some trash talk directed at them.

A less pressing topic, Canada’s fruitless Olympics. No medals yet, behind countries such as China, the United States and the Netherlands. This could go down as Canada’s worst summer Olympics ever, one supposes.

But it’s not a huge deal. For a country of our size and population, competing with China or the US is entirely the wrong idea. They have more money, more people – more talent, if only by sheer numbers.

Besides. Canada has never been much of a summer games country. Only once has Canada won more then 20 medals (the 1984 Olympics don’t really count because of the Soviet boycott which resulted in over 400 people representing the country, a number that is rarely approached since then).

No, Canada should be comparing itself to countries like Morocco or Kenya, countries with similar populations. To Belgum or Austria, which have similar GDP. To Finland or the Netherlands, which have similar total medal counts. They should be the competition, if Canada really needs one.

A more superficial matter, the opening ceremonies and the seats. Two girls, one ceremony, as it were. Does it matter that one girl lipsynced and the other sang? Or that the firework display was a CGI production? Only about as much as the other falsehoods in China, and perhaps less.

The internet sites are blocked by the Chinese government are blocked because they make China look bad. Rules recently put into effect – no spitting, keep it quiet, etc – are to keep China from looking bad.

Basically, China is an insecure country with an image problem. All these creations from the opening ceremony, as well as the problem with nobody getting to the games, stem from this. China doesn’t ever want to look bad, espically not to it’s own people and espically when the whole world is watching.

But does it ultimately matter? One would assume that no, it does not. It means nothing at the end of the day. What does matter are actions of consequence – if their athletes are clean, of legal age and the like. That matters – it cheats people out of a medal.

You could say it’s the most pressing Olympic issue ever.


Written by M.

August 14, 2008 at 5:46 am

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