I didn’t think it was possible but I am kind of Olympicked-out. (There really is no right way to spell that, is there?) I spent so many weeks looking forward to the biggest sporting event to hit television in two years and now I’m kinda underwhelmed. Is there such a thing as too much anticipation?
There is always a point every Olympiad where I start to question the extreme nationalistic aspect of the games. It usually ends up souring me on the concept. I enjoy cheering for athletes from my country as much as anyone but I’ve seen how it can go too far. It makes me wish that countries had nothing to do with the event at all. The media doesn’t help with their almost obsessive displays of medal counts by state. In a time I think humans need to draw closer together, the Olympics sometimes seem only to push us further apart.
This year I think I’ve just reached a place of disenchantment earlier than normal. I can’t say for sure if the badminton scandal has anything to do with these feelings or the gruesome injury sustained by a weightlifter last week. But it bothers me that people will push themselves to such extremes and compromise their principles just to win. Sure, it’s probably the biggest win of one’s life, as far as these things go. The entire world is watching your victory. There is money, fame, sponsorship deals and a myriad of other things at stake. I get that. I guess I can’t really blame the athletes themselves. It’s human to want the kind of recognition that comes with an Olympic medal.
It’s not the years Olympic athletes spend in training that bother me – I admire the heck out of that. It’s more the total lack of self-preservation, the desire to keep going no matter how injured, the unrelenting pressure to prove oneself over and over again while putting one’s physical health in serious jeopardy. Not to mention to levels to which people will stoop in order to win at all costs. It eventually gets hard for me to watch.
I am not going to stage a protest; I am not against the Olympics. The idea! Despite all my protestations I no doubt will be depressed next week when they are over. It is exhilarating to watch people test themselves and realize their dreams. Cheering on my fellow Canadians gives me a sense of pride and cultural identity. I think maybe it is because I enjoy them so much that I feel the need to point out my discomfort.
In the past I have made the argument that dog agility should be in the Olympics. It involves at least as much work by the human as it does by the dog and – in my opinion anyway – is very entertaining to watch. At any level agility can be a very intense and competitive sport and athletes – if I may call them that – participate in all parts of the world. It requires years of training and honing one’s skills, especially on the human’s part. An experienced handler can run a green dog but an experienced dog can prove difficult for a green handler. In many ways I think it would make a terrific Olympic event.
However, my feelings of concern for the fanatical approach many Olympic athletes display make me relieved there are very few sports involving animals in the Olympic games. It’s one thing when a person chooses to push themselves over the edge in pursuit of a gold medal but another when they push an animal. Agility is a frustrating sport. I’ve talked about that a lot. I’ve not participated in an agility trial yet myself (one week!!!) but I’ve read many accounts of competitors who take things just a little too far with their dogs. If this kind of thing occurs at the local level, I can only imagine the pressure one would feel if the entire planet is watching.
Not that I wouldn’t be glued to the television set, along with everyone else.
To be clear, I am in no way suggesting that the current equestrian events are animal cruelty or that this is even a remote concern. The animal-related sports in the modern Olympics are ones that I am sure the animals enjoy doing. I have full confidence that most of the riders love their horses as much as they love the sport. Probably more.
I certainly don’t want to start another horse-related debate here.
But I am saying that it is something that makes me cautious. Perhaps it would be best if dog agility remained out of the Olympic roster. Well, at least until I am good enough to make a medal run of my own.
Do you enjoy watching the Olympics? Have you ever felt any nigglings of worry when it comes to specific events?