“The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well…and collect as many endorsement deals at possible.”
Okay, that last bit is not really part of the Olympic creed.
There was a time when I would set aside 2 weeks in the summer every 4 years to watch the Olympic Games. Unless the Olympic Games were in Australia, then I set aside the two weeks during the fall. I made no plans during these two weeks, faithfully tuning in to root for the American athletes. When no Americans were entered, I rooted for the Italian athletes. If no Italians, then I just rooted for the coolest looking jersey. I watched every trial, every heat, every final.
Somewhere around 1992, I started to lose interest. Coincidentally, this was the debut year of the Dream Team. With the introduction of professional athletes to the sacred world of amateur athletes, the Games were now the Business. Some of these 1992 “professional” athletes behaved most unprofessionally, to the point where I was rooting for anyone else but them to win. Their dream was my nightmare.
Then, the 2006 Olympics in Torino Italy, in which Bode Miller failed miserably in every single one of his well hyped, media frenzied five races. Upon investigation, it became apparent he was more interested in spending his time in Italy partying and golfing. A police raid of his trailer found 3 bottles of Jack Daniels, and frozen burritos. If the athletes are not going to take the competitions seriously, how can I?
The final straw was the confession by Marion Jones. Seven years after winning 5 gold medals in the Sydney Olympics, her medals—and those of her relay teammates—were stripped. Any world records set from the 2000 Games to 7 years later were disqualified. I feel betrayed. I can’t image how her teammates feel. The history books will now show the silver medalists as the gold medalists, the bronze medalists as the silver medals. The members of the number 4 relay team are now the proud owners of an Olympic medal. They were denied their moment at the podium though.
I have not watched any of this year’s Beijing Olympics. I have read a few select news articles. I rooted for Michael Phelps in his astonishing bid for 8 gold medals in one Olympic. He seems to encompass all that is the spirit of the Olympics. Amateur, dedicated, drug free.