In my house, the Olympics are important.
It started for us with Atlanta, in 1996. As we have friends in the area, we though it great to sponge off their hospitality, get our young ones together for the first time, and experience something new. In exchange for the guest bedroom we would buy then a couple tickets to some venues, to share the experience. Ten years gone, Atlanta is remembered as a highlight of our life. It is indescribable the impact of seeing Olympic Park packed with humanity in revelry, without a negative glance, deed or word. I have never understood the term “solidarity” until then. And I have never felt it since.
So now, unable to travel to Turin, we gather around our little-used TV, squinting past the ghosting of the poor reception (we don’t have cable), and try to view the tidbits shown us: So little. And, of course, time and responsibilities intrude. If we could, we would park ourselves and watch it all.
Yesterday I read an op-ed piece from CNN, by Frazier Moore, that dissed the NBC coverage of the events. While I agree that any TV coverage dilutes the experience of being there, that the presentation often undermined the promotional hype, and I feel this writer has never experienced an Olympic moment firsthand. This is typical of the arrogant American mindset of dismissing offhand anything beyond one’s limited experience. No doubt, the author has never tried to ski professionally, or never tied on a pair of skates and skate backward. His closing argument is evident of his blatant, unabashed ignorance:
But that’s just me. Ahead for the networks of NBC is an amateur hour multiplied by 400. Meanwhile, the official VideOlympiad message will prevail, a snow job touting nationalism and global harmony (however much these values seem to collide). It’s a small world after all … but America first!
Here waits the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat. Supple bodies; skintight fabrics. Plus inadvertent comedy: plenty of curling.
Here waits youthful promise, dedication and self-discipline (as exemplified by media sensation Bode Miller, the bad-boy role model from the U.S. Ski Team who, among other indiscretions, suggested in a recent “60 Minutes” interview that he had skied while drunk).
Here waits a sprawling drama. “The stories everyone will be talking about,” says the NBC pitchman.
As for me, I’ll accept my estrangement from NBC and, up through the Olympics closing ceremony, look for TV stories elsewhere. At the least, I can find solace in CBS’ “Survivor” and Fox’s “American Idol.” They make no bones about what they are: made-for-TV contests glorifying money and fame.
No doubt this man didn’t miss the Super bowl.
What bothers me is this is an average American perspective: most people don’t care about the higher, more human aspects of the games. Where is the appreciation of effort against odds? Where is the acknowledgement of excellence? Where is the spirit of solidarity, the shared knowledge that all people are one species, and we all have common goals, lives and needs? Where is the joy of life, as exemplified by these young people whom we all – at some point in our lives - wanted to be? No: Americans are jaded, dismissive of human achievement, and pig-headed. If anything can more closely illustrate that we are living at the end of the “American Experiment,” soon to witness the fall of the empire, it is this torpid disregard for our human heritage, this spiritless and callous display of ignorance. If, as is said, “the meek shall inherit the Earth,” where does that leave America?