I’m an Olympaholic. And like any addict, I can’t be reasoned with. My fix comes before reality, my habit before morality. Trouble surrounding the Games? I don’t want to hear it. And I’m guessing I’m not alone.
The lighting of the torch. The release of the doves. The introduction of the delegations.
These are the Olympic traditions you’re most familiar with, but let me tell you about mine.
Every couple of years — once in the winter, and once in the summer — I extend my index fingers and point them horizontally below my temple. I then move said fingers toward each other until each is occupying an ear, and for the next two weeks, sing the following lyrics: “La la la la la la!”
This is hard for me to say, but (deep breath) I’m an Olympaholic. And like any addict, I can’t be reasoned with. My fix comes before reality, my habit before morality. Trouble surrounding the Games? I don’t want to hear it.
And I’m guessing I’m not alone.
I don’t want to hear that the Olympics repeatedly nuke their host cities’ financial security. I don’t want to know that the 2004 Games bankrupted Greece, or that it took Montreal more than 30 years to pay off its stadium debt after hosting in 1976.
A 2012 study showed that every Olympics since 1960 has gone over budget by about double, and that economic benefits disappear a year after the torch is extinguished. Whatever. I just want see the party — not the house that gets trashed in the process.
I don’t want to hear about the major doping scandals that come about at least once a decade. I’d rather see these heroes get their golds and watch the credits roll.
Marion Jones was much more becoming as the best female athlete in the world than she is as a cheater. World’s Fastest Man befit Ben Johnson more so than World’s Biggest Fraud. The Olympics are supposed to be the sports fan’s escape from corruption, not the embodiment of it. So with more than 100 Russian athletes banned from this year’s Games for doping, I’m just going to assume they caught everybody.
I don’t want to hear about the IOC members who were expelled for taking bribes so that the U.S. could land the 2002 Games in Salt Lake. Give me some Jimmy Roberts tear-jerkers instead. I don’t want to think about Tonya Harding vs. Nancy Kerrigan or Roy Jones Jr. vs. Park Si-Hun. That stuff doesn’t go with John Williams theme song at all.
The French figure skating judge who gave the Russians the gold as part of a quid pro quo? The Soviets getting three inbounds plays to knock off the American basketball team? I’m putting those in my memory’s delete folder. It’s all fantasy land for me when the opening ceremony begins — and I’m guessing it is for you, too.
We’re going to be looking for something to match the thrill of the Miracle on Ice, the wonder of Michael Phelps’ eight gold medals, and the poignance of Muhammad Ali’s surprise appearance in ‘96. We’re also going to forget about any dishonesty, doping or potential economic devastation.
Should we be proud of this? Probably not. But it’s the Olympics, and we gotta get our fix, right?
A few days ago, U.S. women’s national team goalkeeper Hope Solo commented that there always is controversy leading up to Olympics, but that once the Games start “everything goes on as planned.” She’s right in a sense — but only because the plan is generally to ignore any real problems. Pretty sure that will be the case this year, too.
Don’t worry, though. The Games will be over, and we can all got back to something more wholesome — something where we don’t have to compromise our values for the sake of entertainment.
You know, like the NFL.