Today is Friday. All week long we’ve been watching, reading, hearing about the protests along the Olympic torch relay. And I’m all for protesting, it’s a way to bring attention to a cause. Shoot, in high school I was one of the founding members of our school’s Amnesty International branch. (Bet my mom never realized that!) There is a way to bring attention to a cause that can make people change their mind, that can affect change.
People, standing in front of a long distance runner who is carrying a flame of fire is not the way to do it.
Get in line, write letters, make your voice heard–but don’t stand in front of an innocent supporter of hard working athletes and think that your actions are going to do anything more than annoy everyone that planned the route and the Olympic Committee as a whole.
There was an article in today’s USAToday that by Bruce Horovitz that addressed the sponsorship of the games. Should they continue? Should they pull out? Should they wait and see? And I just got fed up. Below is the soapbox that I went on, and thus what prompted the beginnings of this blog–I need a place to rant and rave.
Call me an idealist, but I still strongly support the Olympic games. For an overwhelming majority of the participants there will be no medal, there will be no endorsement deals, there will be no international glory.
This is a venue where an athlete that has trained and worked as hard as he/she knows how has the opportunity to represent their chosen country in an international venue. Many representative athletes will have no other opportunity to compete on an international level and this is the pinnacle moment in that athlete’s competing career. The opportunity to visit a new country, participate in the opening ceremonies with other nations, try their hardest for a personal best while competing at their sport, and enjoy the closing ceremonies with new friends from around the world is the best that most of the athletes will attain.
In each sport, dozens, maybe more, compete, but only three get the medal. The Olympics are for the athletes, to bring together the best of each country and allow them to compete with one another in a unified environment. The IOC chose China to host the games in 2008, and therefore that is the location that these events will occur this summer.
That being said, I take issue with those that say boycott the games or pull sponsorship for the Olympics because of the government of a hosting country. Just because I support the games, I support the athletes, and I admire the hard work and dedication that has brought them to this point does not mean that I support the politics of the country hosting the games. Yes, I take issue with the way that China handles human rights issues. Yes, I think that the country needs reform. Yet were the games to be held in the USA again, there are a myriad of causes that could be cited as something our country could fix–FEMA victims, political corruption, the war in Iraq, unemployment, immigration, etc. No matter the nation, there is always a cause that can be addressed. Do not penalize the athletes that have worked so hard and so long to reach this point by refusing to watch, support, or sponsor the games. Taking issue with the practices of government is one thing. Penalizing the innocent athletes makes us as guilty as the government that committed the offending crimes.