This one's been bugging me a while: as far back at the Beijing Olympics. There was a suggestion that there should be a boycott. A member of Team Canada was interviewed and declared there was no-way the Canadian Government could tell her not to go to Beijing. Fair enough: as long as she had never received a penny in taxpayer money to support herself. And these days most Olympic level sports people do receive taxpayer support. I felt like shouting into the radio speaker, which is crazy, that she could go to Beijing once she'd paid back very penny she'd taken from the taxpayer.
Note I said “sports people” and not “athletes”. A lot of the events in the Olympics do not require any athleticism. On the other hand, there are events that do require athleticism but are not sports. To my mind, anything that has to be judged is not a sport. There is a clear winner in a real sport – first across the line, greatest height jumped, etc, etc.
And why am I forced to financially support these folks' sports ambitions? Olympic success often brings them millions in endorsements or, at worst, a coaching job for life. But what do I get out of it? A warm fuzzy feeling when they win a Gold? Well, I don't. To me sporting achievement is personal. If I'm playing or someone I know is playing, I take an interest. Beyond that I don't care if the fastest woman in the world is Canadian, Russian or Malaysian. Having the fastest woman in the world setting a new record in a Canadian vest doesn't make Canada a better country. In fact, the woman was probably born in Trinidad and spends all year training in the United States. Someone running around a track several times does not, in my book, make the world a better place to live in. A society should be judged on how it treats its young, old and sick. I'd rather see my tax dollars spent on protecting the vulnerable than making some self-obsessed muscle-bound fool a millionaire. And let's forget that in modern sport, that person may well be a drug-taking cheat who just hasn't been caught yet. Hardly a role model or an inspiration.