Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Olympics

So I was channel surfing and came across some gymnastics coverage from Beijing. This prompted the following thoughts:

1. In gymnastics, why do they call it a talent? Whenever the backstory is shown, it is almost always complete with the info that these girls have been training 6-8 hours a day since they were 3. Most of them compete in the Olympics at age 15 or so. Even though I am way out of shape now, I can guarantee you that if I had been training obsessively for 6 hours a day for 12 years, I would be able to do some amazing cartwheels and stuff too.

2. If we can have Ralph Lauren design the uniforms for the walking around ceremony, couldn't we pay some top hairstylist to fix the ratty ponytails and ohmygod SCRUNCHIES I see representing America?!?!?

3. I respect the Olympics for what they are. They have been around for centuries, great way to up national pride, blah blah blah. But, can you imagine, just for a second, that our top researchers, physicians, inventors, and teachers received even 1/10 of the recognition and glory that we are giving these athletes? Yeah, they are athletes. Just athletes. They can do amazing physical things. All of them can jump higher, run faster, and play tennis better than 99% of the rest of humanity. And some of them may contribute their time and money to some charitable work. But when our planet is hosting all eleventy seven million of us (yeah, its a number, look it up), more and more countries are driving more and more cars using more and more fuel, new diseases are running rampant, and I don't even know how many millions are going hungry, is a global event celebrating physical and not mental prowess really what we need to focus on?

And I have to think it is a huge let down for most athletes. Even if you win, and are noted in sports history for the rest of time, it is one moment in your lifetime, a speck in the greater scheme of things. Imagine that you are the researcher who invents cars that can run off of solar power, with 100% efficiency, and can be manufactured for 1/4 of what a standard engine costs. That is the sort of achievement that I think people should strive for. But in the meantime, lets all wear patriotic colors and cheer for the fastest one out there, you know, because that is who will keep your children safe and improve the world.

Cynical much, Maria?

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