As a kid I could not wait for the Olympics to start. Four years seemed like such a long time to see both the winter and summer games played in the same year. I especially loved watching the winter games with ice hockey, ski jumping, downhill races, and speed skating. For the summer games it was the sprints, pole vaulting, long jump and decathlon in track and field, boxing, and basketball.
Things change once you start to get older and the curtain is drawn back, and the wizard is revealed to be nothing more than an ordinary man. Front and foremost, the corruption of the International Olympic Committee and their laissez-faire attitude towards any mistreatment of the citizens of a host country is exposed. The blatant cheating in sports like figure skating and boxing where medals are based on the score of judges. The completely absurd men’s basketball final in the ’72 games when the Russians manipulated the gold medal right out of the US’ hands in the men’s basketball finale. The final blow was the proliferation of professional athletes in most events.
Some of my favorite Olympic memories as a kid were watching the US beat the big bad Russians or East Germans, or any other team that was already using professional amateurs. The 1980 ice hockey gold medal, better known as the “Miracle on Ice” will never be replicated. It can’t be when teams are loaded with players from the NHL and pro leagues in Europe.
There’s been tragedy as well. The savage murder of 11 Israeli athletes by Palestinian terrorists at the Munich summer games in ’72. There was also the bombing at the 1996 summer games in Atlanta that left two people dead.
Let’s not forget the political impact either. The politics that are not supposed to be part of the Olympic experience. Yet Sochi, Russia was chosen for the current games despite a blatant anti-gay policy. Despite pushing people out of their homes to build facilities for the games and the needless slaughter of stray dogs (some of which became stray after the government forced their owner out of their homes), because God forbid one may run into an Olympic venue. Two years the summer games were in China, a country that blatantly abuses their citizens.
There was the US boycott of the 1980 summer games in Moscow due to the Soviet Union’s invasion into Afghanistan and the the Soviets subsequent boycott of the ’84 summer games in Los Angeles as payback. This year, the IOC, in their infinite wisdom, would not allow a tribute to deceased snow boarder Sarah Burke, because that would be political. Putting a sticker on your helmet with her name is political? Someone should read the dictionary definition for the word political to IOC head Thomas Bach, who is doing a fine job following in the foot steps of his inept predecessor Juan Antonio Samaranch.
Despite it all, I’ll still be watching the Men’s hockey tournament, but possibly nothing more than that. And if they keep up the slaughter of stray dogs, I may just skip it all together.
Lastly , have you heard this nonsense that there is no such thing as the Easter Bunny?
Drew Sarver is the publisher, managing editor, and a contributor for Designated For Assignment. He can be followed on twitter at @mypinstripes or by email at email@example.com.