By: Chris Burke
I have no love for the Olympics. On the very basic level this stems from the fact that I could care less about sport. I appreciate and hold great respect for those athletes who’ve dedicated countless hours to perfecting their performances. I do not wish to diminish their efforts in any way, but what they do is not for me. Of course, a blog post on why I don’t enjoy sports would be a) very short; and b) unrelated to the issues covered by this blog.
My dislike of the Games does run deeper than a disinterest in sport. It is difficult for me to separate the politics from the games. I find it hard to cheer and celebrate knowing how the Games have a tendency to hurt economies, force people out of neighbourhoods for the sake of the image of the Games, and the absurd security measures, such as those witnessed at London 2012.
I’m unsure of why my co-editor, Alexandra Savilo “scoffs” when someone mentions the Games are politicised. Scoffs at what, exactly? I presume it’s because “politicized” is often used in a negative context. As it should. We should be concerned when athletic competition becomes politicized. Underlying the spirit of athleticism at these games are disturbing trends of nationalism.
I don’t see the reason for celebrating the victory of a person who, by complete random chance, was born in the same arbitrary set of borderlines that the spectator was, yet this is the mentality promoted by the Olympics. That we, as a nation, are somehow all better because of an individual or team’s efforts at a sporting event. How exactly does someone running along a track or performing a dive represent the nation as a whole? What does this have to do with the “truth north strong and free”?
I say this, even as I write for a blog meant to engage youth in Canadian politics, that my national pride in Canada is very low (and no, it has little to do with a dislike for our current Prime Minister) so why fake that pride for the sake of cheering for some athletes from this country? I’m all for celebrating athleticism for its own sake. I see no purpose in celebrating it for nationalism.
While Savilo speaks of sports as important to many countries as an identity, I worry that we take this identity too far. Yes, you can relate to others through this common identity, but taken too far this relation to one group turns into a dislike or even hatred of the other. I had a friend who was accused of being an American after refusing to a high-five a stranger celebrating Canada’s gold medal in hockey. Where’s the sense in that?
For all my grievances with the Games, I understand their importance, their role in bringing the world together. A celebration of athletes and the global community is what is needed. Put down the flags and start cheering for the athletes based on their talents, not their place of birth.