In which a group of graying eternal amateurs discuss their passions, interests and obsessions, among them: movies, art, politics, evolutionary biology, taxes, writing, computers, these kids these days, and lousy educations.

E-Mail Donald
Demographer, recovering sociologist, and arts buff

E-Mail Fenster
College administrator and arts buff

E-Mail Francis
Architectural historian and arts buff

E-Mail Friedrich
Entrepreneur and arts buff
E-Mail Michael
Media flunky and arts buff

We assume it's OK to quote emailers by name.

Try Advanced Search

  1. Seattle Squeeze: New Urban Living
  2. Checking In
  3. Ben Aronson's Representational Abstractions
  4. Rock is ... Forever?
  5. We Need the Arts: A Sob Story
  6. Form Following (Commercial) Function
  7. Two Humorous Items from the Financial Crisis
  8. Ken Auster of the Kute Kaptions
  9. What Might Representational Painters Paint?
  10. In The Times ...

Sasha Castel
AC Douglas
Out of Lascaux
The Ambler
Modern Art Notes
Cranky Professor
Mike Snider on Poetry
Silliman on Poetry
Felix Salmon
Polly Frost
Polly and Ray's Forum
Stumbling Tongue
Brian's Culture Blog
Banana Oil
Scourge of Modernism
Visible Darkness
Thomas Hobbs
Blog Lodge
Leibman Theory
Goliard Dream
Third Level Digression
Here Inside
My Stupid Dog
W.J. Duquette

Politics, Education, and Economics Blogs
Andrew Sullivan
The Corner at National Review
Steve Sailer
Joanne Jacobs
Natalie Solent
A Libertarian Parent in the Countryside
Rational Parenting
Colby Cosh
View from the Right
Pejman Pundit
God of the Machine
One Good Turn
Liberty Log
Daily Pundit
Catallaxy Files
Greatest Jeneration
Glenn Frazier
Jane Galt
Jim Miller
Limbic Nutrition
Innocents Abroad
Chicago Boyz
James Lileks
Cybrarian at Large
Hello Bloggy!
Setting the World to Rights
Travelling Shoes

Redwood Dragon
The Invisible Hand
Daze Reader
Lynn Sislo
The Fat Guy
Jon Walz


Our Last 50 Referrers

« Hermen Anglada-Camarasa | Main | More Self-Promotion »

August 04, 2008

Olympics Time, Rant Time

Donald Pittenger writes:

Dear Blowhards --

And just when did you wash your hands of the Olympic Games? For me it must have been the 1976 round held in ... gee, I forget where it was.

I used to pay attention to the Olympics. Honest, I really did.

That was in the dark ages when an Olympiad was pretty much a track-and-field deal with a little swimming and a dash of other stuff tossed in.

And the media coverage was easier to take. As a boy, it was in the form of sports page articles and the occasional newsreel at the local Bijou. Early television coverage wasn't so awful either. One could actually see many non-American athletes perform. And the focus was the events and not the recent coverage focusing on individual athletes and the "problems" they had to overcome or possibly even their "victimhood." (I'm not sure of this last one because I avoid TV coverage of the Olympics. Given the seemingly pervasive sob-story angle TV and local papers give the news these days, I assume it's ditto for the Olympics. Correct me if I'm wrong.)

And of course there's all the money poured into a locality to construct the various facilities considered necessary nowadays for a proper Games. Money that might have better uses such as staying the the pockets of the local citizens.

To all this I modestly offer two solutions:

  • Have the summer Olympics permanently held in Greece.

  • Better yet, get rid of the Olympics.

After all, they still have all those "world championship" events and there just might possibly be such things as a "world record" for some event or another. So it's not really a no Olympics, no glory matter for the athletes.



posted by Donald at August 4, 2008


When I was a kid I was taken to see the classic track and field Millrose Games at the old Madison Square Garden. You sat in darkness high above the brightly lit (I remember it as an intense yellow light) heavily banked track and the "field" inside the track. It was thrilling. Like a three ring circus but a deeply serious focused monastic circus, if that's possible. All those events going simultaneously and each event locked in its own rhythm. On the track the elimination trials in the 100, 200 and 400 yard sprints and hurdles and then the finals; on the field the long jump, the high jump, the hop, skip and jump and the queen of the field events, the pole vault (among several other competitions I can't recall). The climactic race was the Baxter Mile. I can still remember the runners thudding around the tight turns, elbows flailing, fighting for position.

Looking back on it so much of the magic was due to that concentrated space and the simultaneity of events.

I don't see how the spread out and event segregated Olympics could ever match that intensity.

Ah well, I was lucky.

Posted by: ricpic on August 4, 2008 9:43 PM

Here in Chicago, the big fight is to stop Mayor Daley II spending $billions of our money on the 2016 Olympics. Second City Cop has come up with the perfect mascot for the Chicago Olympics - it's called "Chalkie".

Posted by: Rich Rostrom on August 5, 2008 6:34 AM

Track and field has long been the core of the summer Games, but the sport has been in decline in North America for decades now. Without the Cold War politics to boost it, the Olympics turns into a nations-fest, and the World Cup of soccer does a better job of channelling nationalism into passion for a game. NBC's coverage has suffered from all of the feminized characteristics that Donald pointed to, and it seems to be getting worse. In that sense, the decline of the Olympics has some similarities to the decline of evening television news, which keeps conforming itself to its female audience, and just ends up losing whatever respect and status it once had.

The Olympics have, in North America particularly, especially you Yanks down south, become a low-status, low-interest irrelevancy. Nobody cares anymore. And that is as it should be. I agree with Donald. Abolish the Olympics. The best way to do that is not to watch them, deprive the advertisers of eyeballs, they'll stop buying ad time, the coverage will drop, and the Olympics will be abolished in the only way that matters...they won't be on television any more.

Posted by: PatrickH on August 5, 2008 8:59 AM

It's about time someone said it. The Olympics are a bad idea. As Orwell pointed out, international sports always partake of the nature of war anyway, and do nothing to foster peace or international understanding, and the modern media obsession with "human interest" and victimology have only made things worse. Get rid of the damned things.

Posted by: Tschafer on August 5, 2008 8:59 AM

I gave up on the Olympics when Jim McKay was replaced by Bob Costas and NBC, despite having 3 channels devoted to coverage, stopped actually showing any of the events in favor of an endless round of tear-jerker human interest stories. Barf.

Posted by: CyndiF on August 5, 2008 10:19 AM

Can't find her name due to the chaff thrown up by these Olympics, but when that little girl broke her leg during - I think it was jumping the saw horse - and stood there with arms up holding up the broken leg - and the ensuing photos on the covers of magazines everywhere - I realized how abused those young kids are and can no longer watch it without thinking that I'm watching the human equivalent of greyhounds that will be tossed aside after they do their few races.

If you are a child and you break your leg, you should be able to sit down and wail until you get help. Same goes for adults, but we shouldn't do that to kids.

I'm overstating this a bit, but that's what turned me off to the Olympics forever.

Posted by: yahmdallah on August 5, 2008 10:26 AM

I could go along with ditching the summer olympics, but not the winter. You can see almost all the summer events at the college level of track and field competition, in addition to swimming and gymnastics. But the winter olympics really are unique.

Posted by: Charlton Griffin on August 5, 2008 10:59 AM

I agree, ditch the Olympics. The coverage sucks for several reasons:

1/ ENDLESS sob stories. No-one cares whos brother, sister, GF, significant other or parent has Leukemia, diabetes, a goiter, has been the victim of some sort of repression or other. Really, no one cares.

2/ They don't broadcast the classic martial events, shooting, archery, wrestling, etc. And they certainly do not show any event in it's entirety.

3/ US Universities (like Rutgers) are closing the programs for many of the truly amateur events including swimming, gymnastics and track & field.

The games should be broadcast on a constant feed with minimal announcing and keep the personal stories of teh athletes personal. Let the people decide what's good enough to watch!

Posted by: Biff on August 5, 2008 12:52 PM

But just think of all the athletes preparing for the games right now who have a recently lost someone close to them or have a loved one with cancer or some other disease. They are about to become famous for at least one night.

Posted by: Pat Hobby on August 5, 2008 1:31 PM

I'll be the lone dissenter here and say I love the Olympics, track and field especially. I agree, the human interest stories are crap, but with some smart Tivo-ing and all the online outlets, you can easily skip that crap and just watch the competitions.

And come on, the Olympics theme? That's some stirring stuff right there. I get goosebumps just thinking about it.

Posted by: JV on August 6, 2008 10:45 AM

It started to look like a consensus.

Incidentally - another blog recommendation. Always worth checking.

Posted by: Tatyana on August 6, 2008 2:09 PM

Let me quote David Davis beautifully expressed sentiment I share:

"Frankly, [...]who the hell cares (or ought to care) whether we can see anything going on at these hijacked Fascist Smugfests called “Olympics” any more? IMHO they have been corrupted since 1936 (and probably before for all i know) by big-states that want to show off their willies to the world. "

Posted by: Tatyana on August 6, 2008 3:03 PM

Post a comment

Email Address:



Remember your info?