The Olympic Games is one of the most boring and futile spectacles yet invented by humans, so the approach of the last day will bring no dismay.
Every four years the best athletes in the world join together to compete in running, jumping, and falling over while their non-running, non-jumping, non-falling over compatriots ecstatically cheer them on.
My, what a fuss those compatriots kick up, painted and draped in the national colours, cheering, waving flags as if it were an Olympic sport of its own. The fans don’t seem to be celebrating that their athletes are the technical best at running, jumping, and falling over, but that they and their nation are innately, inherently the best in the most absolute and fundamental way possible; that they are racially, culturally, morally, naturally, spiritually, genetically superior to everyone because of their abilities at running, jumping, and falling over.
Each victory, near victory, or humiliating loss being greeted with such emotions, such screaming, cheering, crying, and raised arm salutes as to suggest that all this running, jumping, and falling over actually matters to the universe and everyone in it on a very fundamental level.
Never mind that the victors and losers are separated by microseconds, by millimetres, by quantities of time and distance that cannot be measured by humans alone, that require the most sophisticated of machines to calculate, the kinds of machines that normally would be employed measuring the amount of gravitational shift caused by a butterfly flapping its wings on a small planet orbiting a star the other side of the galaxy. In other words, amounts that normal people shouldn’t give a fuck about.
And never mind that the winners in four year’s time will be from totally different countries which makes the nationalistic hoopla look as silly as it is.
The Olympics are thought to have been first held in 776 (when, sensibly and mercifully, there was only one event) so you would have thought that in 2,792 years people would have noticed that the outcomes are a wee bit arbitrary.
Bill Murray tweeted that every event should include an ordinary person as a measure,
Every Olympic event should include one average person competing for reference.
— Bill Murray (@BiIIMurray) July 19, 2016
and that’s a very good idea because Michael Phelps just swam the equivalent of the distance from my house to the end of the street in the same time I could walk it; well, I just pulled a bogey the size of a rat out of my nose: where’s my medal?
And the Olympics are a very, very expensive exercise in futility indeed. The stadiums in this year’s games cost millions that could have been better spent on drugs in Rio’s favelas — which is entirely the Russian team’s approach to the games.
And what’s more, once the games are finished, the sites will go back to the jungle like Angkor Wat or Chernobyl.
For all the energetic running, jumping and falling over, let’s not forget that the games are celebration of obesity because each run, jump and fall is branded with the Coca Cola and McDonald’s logos, purveyors of fine sugar, fat, and heart attacks. Eat enough of this stuff and you too can run, jump and fall over — or at least fall over, and at this top-flight level, one out of three is pretty good.
Then what about the International Olympic Committee itself? Committed to building a better world through sport, or as the rest of us would call it, rampant bribery and corruption. Given the amount of money that’s being sloshed around on Rolexes and little girls, cheering the Olympic athletes is a lot like cheering the gunmen during the St Valentine’s Day massacre.
However, there is one mitigation of the games, and to be honest it’s a pretty big mitigation, one reason to actually feel a bit grateful, and that’s a prompt to go to YouTube and remind ourselves of Eddie Izzard’s vision of the stoned Olympics.
Now, do I get any kind of medal for this rant?