I loved the Olympic opening ceremony last night from Vancouver and loved what Michael Ignatieff said about sport in an article in the New York Times Magazine last weekend: "what lifts it above just a branding exercise for nations, is that it is ultimately about human beings battling with their limitations and finding their own unique and mysterious way to win". I would go even further than that.
The Olympics are the ultimate manifestation and combination of two of humanity's oldest and most natural civilizing traits... these are:
* to come together in gatherings
* to compete against oneself and others ~ or to strive to excel
You take these two things away - we are walking on four legs end of story.
And, the whole argument that a dollar spent on anything connected with the Olympics should have been spent on a humanitarian cause is pretty weak also...
I know the residual economic impacts of the games are somewhat hard to pin down, and often overstated without good reason. But I think it is as likely that the benefits are understated simply due to the fact that it is not well understood how to assess the value and benefits of such an event.
All that being said, the idea that everyone should be a cheerleader and anyone with a negative word to say should clam up for two weeks is IMHO a far worse idea than it would be to cancel the games altogether and build some humongous homeless centre with 800 satellite channels and a free MRI machine.
The games, with their successful sheen, privileged posing and youthful virtuosity provide the perfect backdrop against which to discuss some of the great problems we have in this country and on this planet.
So get out the pom-poms if ya want. Sit around and smother everything with raclette cheese to your heart's content and watch these wonderful games! (We're celebrating Chinese New Year tonight so the menu will be something more along those lines...)
But if someone wants to point out injustices and inequities and the problems that we have still failed to correct in this world even though we can light up a gigantic bear and have it walk through BC Place...
I say bring it on - bitch and complain loud and clear for all the world to hear - now more than ever.
There - I may have just alienated every single person who might read this (not that I hadn't already at some point - :^O) That's just how I feel.