Go Away Ryan Lochte
And take the Olympics with you
Written by Bernie LeRoy
Imagine training your whole life to be the best at something, having your entire identity wrapped up in it – and beyond that of realizing that the meaning of your life is to swim the backstroke faster than anyone else in the world – it turns out that your time on Earth happens to overlap with the one person in history who is actually better than you are at it.
Yes, you would probably take solace in the fact that he’s an alcoholic who seemingly has a half dozen more teeth than the average human being, but ultimately, how would you react to coming SO CLOSE to your destiny, only to be upstaged time and again, over the span of a decade?
At 32, would you, say, dye your hair metallic grey ahead of the upcoming Olympics? (For the record, I’d be okay with this if it was a tribute to Marlon Brando’s Jor-El in Superman). Or, if that hadn’t provided the spark you were looking for, would you…fabricate a story about being robbed at gunpoint and then leave your teenage teammates in Rio to deal with the mess?
As someone who actually has been robbed at gunpoint in Brazil (I have the ATM receipts and the testimony of a consequent Agoraphobe to prove it), the truth of the matter is that I always thought Ryan Lochte was a douchebag and I could care less. I could care less about his lies, his attention starved motivations, his performance in the Olympics, and the Olympics altogether.
Much like the once famous World’s Fair, the Olympics have become an antiquated human exercise. A bloated, inconsequential, two week television program. Isn’t the great (horrible) thing about professional sports, is that it informs us of exactly which athletic feats we care about and in most instances, how much we care about them?
Sure the Olympics are ubiquitous
Playing on TVs everywhere
But are you really watching?
They are like a night light for people who get lonely in the afternoon.
Honestly, is there a better chance of you paying to see a swim meet or paying not to have to attend it? Without blinking, I would pay $300 not to have to go to a swim meet. Maybe $500.
I certainly understand the value of people all over the World, coming together to celebrate human achievement, and more importantly, the pursuit of such achievement. But ask yourself, even as an American, do the Olympics provide a fraction of the daily, frenzied, unadulterated passion or interest of the month-long FIFA World Cup?
The fact is that we already live in a Global reality. When the modern Olympics began in 1894, it took the average person several weeks to travel from New York to Paris via steamship. Today, you can fly to Paris for Dinner and be home in New York for breakfast.
Between Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat, I feel like I see a different corner of the Earth every day. There’s no mystery to Brazil that watching the Olympics has revealed, nothing unique about seeing the face of someone from Madagascar or Slovenia. Beyond that, especially with regard to Social Media, are we not reminded of interconnected human endeavors and achievement on an hourly basis?
If all of this came at a minor expense, I’d be fine with it. It’s not to say that there aren’t some compelling individual stories or exciting moments in competition. But hosting these games has proven to be a tremendous expense.
In 1976, the games nearly bankrupted Montreal and certainly played a role in bankrupting Greece (2004). While the numbers certainly could be contested, the reported operating cost of the Beijing and Sochi Olympics were $40 and $50 billion dollars.
This time around, stadium construction was met with violent protests in the streets of Brazil, where large swaths of the population live without basic civil infrastructure.
That’s not to mention the staggering amounts of alleged bribes and payoffs associated with the notoriously corrupt IOC – or the outright joke that occurred prior to the start of this Olympics, where the World Anti-Doping Agency suspended the Lab in Rio that was set to do all testing for the games.
Which leads me back to Lochte, who lied, and the rest of the athletes, who may or may not be cheating to achieve….what exactly? Can you imagine how intolerable most of these self-obsessed narcissists must be in the days and months between these competitions? So they can throw the javelin further than anyone else? Do a 720 degree somersault over a pommel horse? Dominate a badminton court?
In the famous words of Ricky Watters –
Similar to the barren, billion dollar stadiums that are left behind once the games end, the athletes too, stand as monuments to nothing.