London 2012 and the XXX Olympics: Not Remotely as Interesting as it Sounds

In just over a week, the vast majority of the world will return to its status quo state of not giving a shit about swimming or gymnastics, but until then, there’s seemingly little reprieve from the constant onslaught of propaganda goading me into joining some allegedly magical, transcendental global communion or convincing me that Coca-Cola and McDonald’s manufacture and distribution of consumer-grade poison should somehow be synonymized with athletic excellence.  The closest I ever got to taking an interest in the Olympics was when I played Track & Field on my NES as child, which I quickly abandoned when the novelty of seeing how quickly I could hit my “A” button wore pretty goddamned thin after about 2 minutes.

For the record, my complaint is not necessarily that I hate the Olympics (although for the record, I do), but moreso that I don’t care about the Olympics, and the fact that they’ve so thoroughly infiltrated every facet of contemporary culture and modern media means that, much like Justin Beiber (whose name I may or may not be misspelling, but refuse to look up as a deliberate show of contempt) or movies and books about effeminate, whiny vampires, I can’t effectively ignore their existence.

Much like when the World Cup rolls around and every asshole I see is suddenly an avid footballer even though I’ve never heard them mention a goddamned word about soccer in the intervening three years, as soon as the Olympics descend upon us, I’m amazed to discover that everyone I know is actually a closet track-and-field fanatic or water polo aficionado (for the record, I have no idea what the fuck water polo is, but if it doesn’t involve riding horses around in a swimming pool, I don’t care).

It’s not that I have a problem with “recreational” or “fair-weather” sports fans, but I consider proper recreational fandom to be something of an emeritus status granted to people having previously demonstrated an adequate level of devotion to said sport.  For instance, given my previously documented relationship with football and having been a legitimate hardcore NHL fan for several years, I consider I’ve earned the distinction of being a fair-weather fan of both sports, and henceforth, can casually drop in and out of either with perfect impunity, but I would venture the same cannot be said of 98% of the assholes who suddenly develop opinions about the 1200m canoeing sprint every four years.

Of course, I suppose the argument could be made that most of these sports aren’t as easily followed outside the confines of their Olympic showcase, but in a world where I can visit a website entirely devoted to shoving a cat’s head through a piece of bread, I’m sure there exists some reasonably accessible means of following any Olympic sport in the “off” season.  I’m assuming the participants aren’t just fucking about between Olympic games, so surely there’s some manner of active competition for these sports that takes place in the intervening years.

But let’s be honest; the reason no one follows the majority of these sports outside of the Olympics is the same reason that I stopped played Track & Field after 2 minutes: it’s boring as fuck.  I like swimming, but my idea of swimming involves fucking about in the water (preferably with a drink within close proximity) and has absolutely nothing to do with repeatedly traversing the pool in a straight line, much less watching anyone else do it.  As far as spectator sports are concerned, 98% of Olympic events rank somewhere below the Coney Island 4th of July Hotdog-Eating Contest (and yes, I’m aware that millions of people watch horseracing every year, but take away the booze and betting windows, and you’ll only be left with approximately half-a-dozen people who actually enjoy “the majesty of the sport”).

Of course, at least two-thirds of the people who follow the Olympics are doing so primarily because it’s lodged into the popular culture’s collective consciousness at the moment.  Most of these are also the people who watch the Superbowl for the commercials and the halftime show.  They’ll watch the opening and (possibly) closing ceremonies, check the internet every day to see the latest medal count and make at least a couple of Olympics-related Facebook posts or tweets to prove their level of commitment to their “friends.”

Incidentally, I also refuse to watch the opening ceremony for the same reason I ignore the halftime show: it’s essentially overproduced filler designed to specifically cater to those people who are watching the Superbowl for the fucking commercials, though in all fairness, the opening ceremony is imbued with a bit more pomp and pageantry (and I have a tendency to instinctively dislike anything that can be fairly described using the word “pageantry”).   For the record, having (involuntarily) watched around 5 minutes, give or take, of the past two opening ceremonies (the Beijing ceremony, I assume, serving as some statement about the individual dutifully functioning as a faceless cog for the good of the collective and the London ceremony serving up what I imagine the world expects from the British: James Bond, the Queen, Mr. Bean and Harry Potter), I see no reason to change my position.

And finally, there’s some significant portion or even majority of the population who follow the Olympics, at least in part, out of some sense of misguided patriotism.  For some reason, many of these people associate doing well in the Olympics as some manner of proxy for demonstrating a national, cultural or ideological superiority.  I might add that this is also the idea that Hitler overtly promoted when Germany hosted the games in 1936.  Just to be clear, I’m not suggesting that these Olympic fans are Nazis…just Nazi sympathizers.  For my part, I honestly don’t know how seeing a couple of people twirl in the water in unison more perfectly than any other country demonstrates anything save a misspent youth.

So far as I’m concerned, when the 100-meter dash is replaced by a gladiatorial duel between individuals piloting some manner of large robot (and just to be clear, I’m talking about Mechwarrior/Macross/Gundam-type fighting robots, not the Hugh Jackman, remote-controlled, rock ‘em, sock ‘em-style horseshit), then I’ll happily jump on board with the Olympics.  Until then, I’ll quietly bide the next week, avoiding (to the best of my ability) the inexorable Olympic riptide, comforted by the knowledge that the zeitgeist will likely dissipate just as quickly as it arose, and the only aftermath I’ll likely need suffer through is listening to the latest crop of gold-medalist-cum-celebrities hawk Subway sandwiches for the next four fucking years.

  1. juanito
    August 8th, 2012 at 19:09 | #1

    are you rooting for Texas in the Olympics?

  2. August 8th, 2012 at 19:32 | #2

    Only in the Badminton Men’s Doubles, which, I assume, is the only event most Texans are following…

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