Growing up, and even five years ago, the Olympics were something I looked forward to every year. A theater girl, I loved the outright spectacle of all the best athletes in the world competing for gold and for glory. The Olympics also tends to draw us together as part of a global community. Of course we’re in our homes, rooting for our own athletes to win, but we’re also connecting with so many other nations, and rooting for their athletes.
The world watches the human energy that unfolds during the Olympics. Falls are both dramatic and heartwarming, courage and grit are shown by athletes, who always find a way to overcome obstacles and yet still make it out ahead. It’s like a reality TV show, full of young, good looking people, that has a real happy ending.
Except this year. This year I feel very “blah” about the games. And, this is by no means a professional survey, but everyone I talk to also seems blah about games.
I have a theory. Or, at least, I know why I, personally, have been blah about the games. As a global community, we have been in the midst of a gripping pandemic just over a year and a half. Now that the Olympics are here, we still can’t contain the virus. We, as a world, have sent our best athletes into the fray, spent billions on the Olympic Games, all while most of the world isn’t even vaccinated yet. The golden luster of the games has dulled. It’s a gilt overlay that’s chipping and revealing dented tin underneath. The Olympics are not bringing us together, nor are they necessarily tearing us apart. They’re just…blah. Instead of a welcome diversion it’s just another area for stress and anxiety.
The Pandemic isn’t over yet, but the global (perhaps western?) community is selfishly requiring that we move on as though it is. The games have pushed on despite calls for them to stop or be postponed. Why? Money, contracts, power.
Athletes are getting sick, our world is already sick. Normal people are dead and dying, and, in my case, I’m two weeks away from schools reopening without masks. The games are not a welcome distraction, they’re simply another thing to worry about. Somehow, some news station will sell this to you as though people don’t care about the Olympics anymore, or with some other angle.
I don’t think that’s true. I think we are tired, and the dazzling display of the Olympics is not something that’s empowering in the middle of a pandemic. It’s not something that’s empowering when we are in the midst of a housing crisis and inflation.It’s hard to watch our athletes compete when we are all struggling. It’s hard to watch money get thrown at the games when we need global vaccinations. It’s hard to watch Olympic dreams get dashed by the virus, because the Olympics shouldn’t have gone on in the first place.
Though…I’ll watch the GOAT all damn day.