Mr. Charlton’s been dumping on the Olympic games for the last couple of posts and for good reason. They’re expensive, and the countries hosting the games can’t always afford the exorbitant cost of hosting the damn things. When the host country runs out of money, you get shoddy facilities, unsafe venues, and not enough doctors to treat people. This last point is especially true if you currently have an outbreak of something like Zika or the T-Virus.
I’m not a sports guy. I have no interest in sports, no clue about sport, don’t follow sports, don’t get the whole big hoopla about the drama in professional sports. Truthfully, I’m the last person that should be commenting on sports, and certainly one of the most celebrated sporting events in the world. I shouldn’t be touching this one. But I’m gonna step out of my persona for a second, get real down to earth and share my real opinion of the Olympic games.
Now sports, in general, are important. I don’t agree with exactly HOW important they are in our society, but if I were to choose this world with sports and this world without, then hands down I’d have to go with a sporting world.
They’re important for kids growing up. They’ll get exercise running around, and an active lifestyle is good for developing brains. They’ll learn teamwork. And the most important life lesson they’ll learn, one that they’ll carry with them for the rest of their lives, is this; You can train every single day, work hard every day to achieve a dream, only to find out that someone from the next town over is better than you’ll ever be. I’m not kidding! That’s a really important lesson kids need to learn. And if they are the best, then this society will shower you with riches and fame, or at least a trip to the Olympics. Most likely they’ll only be average, and that’s perfectly okay. They’ll still walk away knowing how to work hard to achieve something, even if it’s second place.
They’re important as an entertainment outlet. That’s what professional sports are. They’re meant to entertain people. It doesn’t entertain me, but I can’t argue with the numbers. 90% of Americans watch sports. If you’re reading this and aren’t into sports, you are in the minority. Plain and simple. Even I’ve been sucked in every now and again. Surrounded by people invested in the game at the bar, everyone biting their nails, and then the place erupts in cheers when a goal is scored. Shucks, Mr. Charlton was cheering too! So I can’t sit here and talk about sports without at least acknowledging that people are invested in sports.
The Olympics aren’t important because it gives kids something to aspire to and then statistically fail at. They’re not important because the world needs more sports entertainment, as most people would much rather watch football then target shooting. I’m going to show you a picture that sums it up. A picture is worth a thousand words, and I need to keep my word count below 1500.
Mr. Charlton is going to explain to you why this picture is so goddamn important. The gymnast taking the selfie is Lee Eun-Ju of South Korea and the gymnast on the left is Hong Un Jong of North Korea. The two countries have technically been at war for the last six decades. I shouldn’t have to explain what North Korea is all about, but I’ll try to sum it up. It’s a brutal country led by a family of despots who’ve had a stranglehold on the country through a cult of personality. The Kims are thought of more as Gods then they are heads of state. The citizens of North Korea aren’t allowed to leave, except with very few exceptions. The Olympic games are one of them.
The picture sums up a very important aspect of the Olympics. That even though these two are citizens of countries that see each other as enemies, under the banner of the Olympic flag, they’re united in the spirit of healthy competition. Not with bullets or bombs, but gymnastics.
They’re another magical event happening at the Olympics, and it’s not basketball. This is the first Olympics hosting a team of refugees, athletes that have no country to call home. You know what flag they’re flying?
Here’s a hint. It’s this one.
That flag represents humanity under one banner. It represents the spirit of putting down your guns and picking up volleyballs instead. It represents the best aspects of the human spirit. It represents community, commonality, compassion and competition, all under one goddamn flag. If you’re wondering if this competition is worth the four or five billion dollar price tag, I’ll give you my opinion. You better fucking believe it’s worth the price because that’s less than the cost of a week at war. And thankfully the only thing getting shot at the Olympics is targets.
The Illustrious Mr. Charlton
p.s. I’m still not gonna watch, though. Just so we’re clear.
¹ Photo taken from http://retrogamersociety.com/tag/the-last-of-us/