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2008 Beijing Olympic Games


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If anyone is near the CBC in Toronto, you can always stop in and watch the games on a MASSIVE HD screen. This is a public-accessible area of the building at ground level:

August 5, 2008

CBC launches coverage of Beijing 2008: The Olympic Games in the Atrium, Aug. 8

CBC staff are invited to drop by the Atrium, Friday, Aug. 8, beginning at 8 a.m., as CBC broadcasts the Opening Ceremony, launching its coverage of Beijing 2008: The Olympic Games.

The Opening Ceremony, and every other Games moment, will air in the Atrium on the big screen, using a high-def projector.

Also on Aug. 8, NHL player Steve Montador (Anaheim Ducks) and two-time Olympic gold medalist Jen Botterill (ice hockey) will be on hand to sign autographs, and represent Right To Play, the international humanitarian organization that raises awareness and funding for Right To Play projects, currently in 23 countries across Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

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From 2004, but the thoughts are still relevant. I think the Olympics are a bit over the top.

"How can you hate the Olympics?" they ask me. "Are you some sort of antipatriotic subversive? Don't you appreciate the genius of Bob Costas? Can't you understand the majesty of world-class Ping-Pong?" These are the questions I face every other year. Every other year, I am accused of hating the Olympics. Now, this accusation is inaccurate. I do not hate the Olympics; I just don't like them at all. For as long as I can remember, the Olympics have been completely and utterly unmoving. This is ironic, inasmuch as we're all about to spend the next VII weeks being reminded of how emotive and heart-wrenching and dramatic these games are going to be. This is not something I need to hear, particularly since the only thing the Olympics ever do is reinforce my dislike for a particular kind of American: people who like the home team simply because the home team is, in fact, the home team.

Before I get into this, it's helpful to take a retrospective, egocentric look at the modern Summer Olympics. The Olympics that I remember most vividly are the Munich Games of September 1972. This is somewhat surprising, because I was born in June 1972. However, I still feel hyperinformed about this Olympiad. I've watched One Day in September, a documentary about Palestinian terrorists taking Israeli athletes hostage; :03 from Gold, an HBO retelling of the rigged U.S.A.--Soviet Union basketball final; and two movies about charismatic (but otherwise unremarkable) runner Steve Prefontaine. I can remember all four of those films more accurately than any Summer Olympics I ever watched for real. All I can remember about the 1976 games is that Bruce Jenner briefly made me want to eat unsugared, wheat-based cereal. There was a boycott in 1980, which made no sense to me at the time and still doesn't today; I'll never understand why stopping Edwin Moses from dominating the four-hundred-meter hurdles was supposed to make Russia pull out of Afghanistan.

The Soviets responded by boycotting the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles, but that didn't bother me as much. At the time, I was positive no white guy from the Ukraine was going to be faster than Carl Lewis anyway. It was during these games, however, that I began to realize just how ridiculous casual sports fans can be. On August 10, 1984, Zola Budd collided with Mary Decker during the three thousand meters. This, as you may remember, was a huge controversy. And while I was following said controversy on my beanbag chair in front of our twenty-one-inch Zenith, something occurred to me: Why the fuck is everyone suddenly concerned with women's distance running? Had this race happened in the summer of '83, little barefoot Zola could have pistol-whipped Mary on the backstretch and it probably wouldn't have been mentioned in USA Today.

This is when I realized that the Olympics are designed for people who want to care about something without considering why.

In order to enjoy the Olympics, you can't think critically about anything. You just have to root for America (or whatever country you're from) and assume that your feelings are inherently correct. It's the same kind of antilogic you need to employ whenever you attend a political convention or a church service or movies directed by Steven Spielberg. When Savannah power lifter Cheryl Ann Haworth tries to clean and jerk the equivalent of a white rhino, we (as Americans) will be obligated to pray for her success, despite the fact that we know nothing about her or any of her foes. We're all supposed to take inspiration from Sada Jacobson, who (I'm told) is the world's number-one female saber fencer, which is kind of like being the world's number-one Real World/ Road Rules Challenge participant.1 In a matter of weeks, everyone is going to be ecstatic about the prospect of Michael Phelps winning as many as eight gold medals in swimming, even though I have yet to find a single person who knows who Michael Phelps is.

This is what I can't stand about the Olympics, and it's also what I can't stand about certain sports enthusiasts: the idea that rooting for a team without any justification somehow proves that you are a "true fan." All it proves is that you're ridiculous, and that you don't really consider the factors that drive your emotions, and that you probably care more about geography and the color of a uniform than you do about the sport you're ostensibly watching. I have a sportswriter friend who constantly attempts to paint me as a soulless hypocrite because I adored the Boston Celtics in 1984 but am wholly ambivalent toward them today. His argument makes no sense to me. I have no idea why my feelings about an organization twenty years ago should have any effect on how I think now. The modern Celtics have different players, a different coach, a different offense, different management, different ownership, and play in a different arena; the only similarities between these two squads are that they both wear green and they both use the same parquet floor.

I'm not rooting for flooring.

Yet this is what the Olympics ask us to do, more or less. We could toss a bunch of serial killers into the pool in Athens, and we'd still be told to support their run for water-polo gold. And isn't this mind-set the core of every major (and minor) problem we have in this country? The war in Iraq is the most obvious example, but that's just the snout of the proverbial iceberg. Every wrongheaded sentiment in society derives from our ever-growing culture of unconditional rightness. We've become a nation of reflexively loyal fans. As I grow older, I find myself less prone to have an opinion about anything, and I'm starting to distrust just about everyone who does. Whenever I meet someone who proudly identifies herself as a Republican or a Democrat, I think, Well, this person might be interesting, but she'll never say anything about politics that's remotely useful to me. I refuse to discuss abortion with anyone who is pro-life or pro-choice. I refuse to discuss affirmative action with any unemployed white guy or any unemployed black guy. All the world's stupidest people are either zealots, atheists, or ideologues. People used to slag Bill Clinton for waffling on everything and relying solely on situational pragmatism. As far as I'm concerned, that was the single greatest aspect of his presidency. Life is fucking confusing. I don't know anything, and neither do you.

But this is not what the Olympics want you to believe. The Olympics--or, more accurately, NBC--want you to feel like you're always on the right side, even if you don't know why. NBC will subject you to hours of maudlin human-interest stories about athletes you've never heard of, and it'll insist that these people have overcome adversity and should automatically be perceived as heroes (although I'm sure Ahmad Rashad will remind us that they're not "the real heroes," since "the real heroes" are generally identified as military personnel not being court-martialed for torture). Now, maybe these athletes deserve your respect, and maybe they don't. It's always 50-50. But don't care about them just because they're televised Americans.

That said, I'm sure I'll still end up sitting through all this melodramatic shit, and I'm sure I'll unconsciously find myself not-so-secretly hoping that America wins every event (except for speed walking; for some reason, I always hope Canada dominates speed walking). I'm not sure how much I love my country, but I'm pretty sure I don't prefer any of the alternatives. My main fear is that the Saudi Arabians will steal gold in the four-hundred-meter relay and--moments before the event is rebroadcast in prime time--Costas will be unable to resist telling us that the terrorists have already won.

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I fucking detest the Olympics, that orgy of faux-nationalism designed to sell more Big Macs and Cokes.

But I'm also a hypocrite because I love international hockey and will be fully enthralled by that every 4 years despite my Olympic hate.

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I enjoy the sports and some of the drama that unfolds. I can look beyond all the sponsorship and advertising. The Olympics are by no means perfect. Too much money spent, too much national pride, too much big business. Put that aside and there are still great stories involving people who have trained for years to be near the top of their sport. I do get a small sense of pride when a Canadian who has struggled to get to that level beats someone from the US or China who has had tons of money or trained from birth in National training centers.

I guess I am just an avid sports fan and enjoy the competition. Trying to keep the politics out of it can be difficult.

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Totally agree with ya. I love watching the drama unfold as well as the surprises. To watch somebody who is totally not expected to rise to the moment get in there and totally kick ass is amazing ... wherever they are from.

beats someone from the US or China who has had tons of money or trained from birth in National training centers.

But hey, if you watch the American broadcasts EVERY SINGLE US ATHLETE has overcome some unbelievable odds, hardships, diseases, alien abductions, etc. Seriously, just watch their vignettes on their athletes (which is easy because they never cover anyone else!!! ).

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[

But hey, if you watch the American broadcasts EVERY SINGLE US ATHLETE has overcome some unbelievable odds, hardships, diseases, alien abductions, etc. Seriously, just watch their vignettes on their athletes (which is easy because they never cover anyone else!!! ).

I agree 100%. I am all for pride in your own people but I like to see the overall picture. US Olympic Television Coverage is usually lacking.

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I fucking detest the Olympics, that orgy of faux-nationalism designed to sell more Big Macs and Cokes.

But I'm also a hypocrite because I love international hockey and will be fully enthralled by that every 4 years despite my Olympic hate.

I agree with the whole nationalism thing, and the sponsorships that are shoved down your neck the whole games. And I do like watching international hockey... but it's more because there's a much smaller talent pool to draw from so the depth of the teams is much greater... that and you get to see people who don't normally play together on the same team, and it helps to make sense of real-time abilities in contrast to play in the NHL.

So with that being said... the olympics are still interesting for me... kind of like sitcoms... if I got time to watch the tube... I'll watch, and I can get caught up in the individual action... but I don't have to watch.

I saw part of the opening ceremonies. I thought they were very impressive. Looked like they had 50,000 performers.

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I caught the end of the women's road cycling final, and it was cool: it was raining heavily, and a small five-rider group had broken away from the pelleton. In about the last kilometre, the British cyclist fell back from the breakaway group, but came back and won the gold.

This is also the first time I've seen synchronized diving; in fact, I hadn't even known it existed as a sport.

Aloha,

Brad

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talk about IDIOTS!!!!

I can't believe that:

a) no members of the mens and womens basketball teams didn't think this would be offensive

B) no Spanish coaches or officials thought this was inappropriate

c) the photographer didn't say anything

d) any of the editors, layout people, etc. at the Spanish newspaper didn't think that this was racist

http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2008/aug/11/olympicsbasketball.olympics20081

Olympics: Spain's eye-catching faux pas

spanishbasketballteam.jpg

Spain's Olympic basketball teams have risked upsetting their Chinese hosts by posing for a pre-Games advert making slit-eyed gestures. The advert for a courier company, which is an official sponsor of the Spanish Basketball Federation, occupied a full page in the sports daily Marca, the country's best-selling newspaper.

The advert features two large photographs, one of the men's basketball team, above, and one of the women's team. Both squads pose in full Olympic kit on a basketball court decorated with a picture of a Chinese dragon. Every single player appears pulling back the skin on either side of their eyes. The advert carries the symbol of the sport's governing body.

No one involved in the advert appears to have considered it inappropriate nor contemplated the manner in which it could be interpreted in China and elsewhere. No offence was intended by the advert, but whether the Chinese see it that way is a different matter and it is likely to provoke more criticism at a delicate time for Spanish sport. The failure to recognise the potential consequences is striking in the light of the problems Spain has had with issues of race and the Spanish Olympic committee's continued desire to host the Games in Madrid in 2016 or 2020.

In the past the Spanish have been left in no doubt as to the sensitivity of racial issues internationally, especially since Spain's football manager, Luis Aragonés, made his infamous remark about Thierry Henry, monkey chants greeted England's football players in a friendly game in Madrid and the formula one driver Lewis Hamilton was subjected to abuse in Barcelona.

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