In just a few short weeks the “world” will turn its attention to Rio for the 2016 Summer Games. Soccer moms living in flyover states will soon become experts on deductions for improperly stuck vault landings, your dad will look up from the latest John Grisham novel to comment on how much splash was created on the entry from a 30m platform dive, and kids all over the country will cheer as the USA Men’s Basketball team, comprised of NBA all-stars, will win the gold medal game by forty points. So to celebrate this event, here’s a not quite top 10 list of things that drive me nuts about the Olympics.
Why, oh why, are we sending world class athletes to the world’s most deplorable locations? Between Sochi in 2014 and now Rio, can we go back to selecting countries that actually have an infrastructure that can support the event? After the #sochiproblems viral event during the last games showed us how hard it was for the competitors to even get a bathroom break in privacy, one can only speculate what the athletes will show us on social media this year. Plus, the world is becoming a much more dangerous place. You’d have to suspect the games will be target for lunacy, as they have in the past. How confident would you be leaving your prepubescent gymnastics phenom in the hands of Brazil’s national security to ensure her safety?
Finally, on the subject of location, the country is goddamn mess. Here’s an excerpt from a Time article on why the Rio games will fail:
“In Brazil, the national government is in crisis, and the local Rio government on the verge of bankruptcy. The beach that is supposed to revel in the exposed flesh of beach volleyball players recently was awash with dismembered body parts. Rio waterways teem with garbage and untreated human waste. The absence of some top athletes—including the withdrawal of multimillionaire golfers—will be contrasted with the rising misery of a host city, nation and continent that don’t have the choice of withdrawing, and who lack the public health resources to deal with staggering human cost of the Zika virus.”
What…the….hell? This is how we choose to celebrate the world’s top athletic competitors? This is before we even begin discussing the millions Brazil had to spend on stadium, infrastructure improvements and athlete housing required to secure the games while large portions of the population look on in starvation. These white elephant stadiums that are built for the games cost a ton to not only build but maintain. You’d have to be mad to host the games, unless of course you already have the proper facilities.
2. The events
There will be 306 events in Rio. We’ll see ping pong and handball, but baseball will be nowhere to be found. It wasn’t too long ago that POKER, yes like with cards, was being considered for an Olympic event. I have a hard time understanding why some sports get the nod and others don’t. Maybe we should get to vote every four years on the 300 events we’d be most interested in seeing?
Fencing? Hell yeah, swords.
Canoeing? Meh, pass.
3. Subjective scoring
How can we get past this? We have the technology. We have video cameras, instant replay, high definition, and these rhythmic gymnastics ribbon twirls covered from every angle. So why do we need to deal with a Russian judge dishing out a 5.2 for something that was clearly an 8.1? It’s like every event they are trying to chip away a little revenge for Ivan Drago.
4. Too many athletes
Much like there are too many events, there are too many athletes. How many heats do we need to see before we get to a competition that has a medal on the line? I feel like every short distance race has an Eastern European in lane 1 still heading towards the finish line while the winner is already draped in a flag being interviewed by Michele Tafoya.
Oh Russia! Your track team just got banned from even competing! (Spot in lane 1 now available!) The Russian track team state sponsored doping scandal is just the latest. America has its share of shame. Remember Marion Jones?
6. Pro Athletes
Give me a break. We can see these athletes compete anytime….against equal completion. It’s total nonsense to watch NBA all-stars play the Italian National Team. Winning is presumed, losing is humiliation. Where’s the joy in watching this? Now pro golfers? How will this be any different from the other four majors happening this summer? How will tennis be any different from any other grand slam event? Amateurs made the event unique. Essentially this renders the 1980 Miracle on Ice unique in this country’s history. Next time it happens, we’ll be the heavy favorite that gets knocked off.
7. NBC’s Prime Time Package
Beach volleyball is a perfect example of this. Often times these matches are played during the day, but they are wildly popular, so NBC wants to show them in prime time. The problem is you have a computer, and cell phone, and if your reading this, maybe a sports app or two? Therefore, you see results (spoilers) before the airing, so that’s annoying.
8. Medal counts
This is pointless. Especially using it to declare what country “won” the Olympics. It’s just a statistic that helps Americans feel good about America. The US tries to compete in every event (something many countries can’t afford to do) may put more money and science towards training than any other nation, and has a huge and diverse population. Look at the medal count form 2012, the US had 103 medals with 46 golds. The “second place” nation, China, had a distant 88 medals with 38 golds. It’s obvious, winning at these types of things is important to us as Americans. So judging by medal counts, congrats, we have the most athletic country in the world! Huzzah!
But who am I kidding? I love the Olympics. I’ll gobble up countless Costas hours each night. I’ll absorb all kinds of cultural information about Brazil. I’ll emote as I hear about how, seemingly every, Olympian overcame overwhelming odds, logged countless hours of training, and sacrificed their childhoods for this one singular chance at greatness. And I’ll pull for the USA to win every event. Even though I complain a lot, here’s to a great games, a safe games, and a fair games.