|Olympic Symbol - Used without permission.|
Not long ago, I heard a similar argument from a soon-to-be-Olympian, claiming that Olympic participants didn’t get ‘any respect’. Vladimir Putin is shocked – shocked, I tell you – that people are raising a wary eyebrow (along with straight-up statements of corruption) at the $51 billion dollar price tag of this year’s Winter Games. Gone are the days when emergent nations could field a modest few participants in the ‘classic’ sports of disqus, javelin, et. al. Today, the Olympics, as with everything else, is the province of the wealthy few.
While some rely on both private and corporate sponsorships, a disproportionate number of Olympians simply tap the family finances – this is what makes it possible to snowboard 10 hours a day rather than having to schlep like the rest of us goons and get a paying job. Some even sell themselves to another country – a sort of ‘Olympic mercenary’ – when that country is in need of someone with their particular athletic skills. (Understandably, poorer countries in Asia and Africa want the citizenship requirements tightened in order to prevent that last one – but this is only one of many issues corrupting the Olympics, and as with anything, money talks – and poor countries walk.)
In point of fact, for thirty years the United States (and much of the rest of the world which had a cabal of filthy-rich people capable of purchasing their respective governments outright) has transformed itself into a bang-on plutocracy. This ‘rule by the wealthy’ manifests itself in large ways and small – from corporate ‘bonuses’ to the aforementioned pampered ‘athletes’.
Whether it’s the kickbacks and corruption on which the very stadium in Sochi was built, or the privileged-few who get to participate, the Olympics is the manifestation of plutocratic corruption – the Olympics, like so many other things in the New Millenium, have become the province of the very rich, and a love-fest/celebration of wealth.
Lenin? Marx? They’re rolling over in their graves, along with Jesse Owens and others who participated in the competitions of a simpler time.
Likely, you'll hear one or more well-coiffed and painfully young 'journalists' on one of the major cable networks going on and on about the roundup of stray dogs in Sochi; the latest 'accomplishment' of a 1%'ers wealthyspawn as they 'do what they love', or (quelle horreur!), the complete lack of basic toilet-function in the Olympic village.
Me? I've got better things to do this month than put more money, albeit indirectly, in the pockets of these people. There are other, better things to do - and I hope you'll join me in doing them, no matter what they are.