Sunday, July 29, 2012

Aiming For Gold?

The Olympics are underway. I loved the opening ceremony. It was spectacular. And as a bonus it promoted literacy and reading, which is never a bad thing.

The soundtrack was wonderful. Paul McCartney with Hey Jude as a closer was kitschy, but it was kind of successful in the context. I must admit to being completely underwhelmed by Dizzy Rascal and The Arctic Monkeys. As performers, I thought they were average - and as part of the production, they disrupted the flow of the show. It's not a concert, after all.  Mike Oldfield's presence, on the other hand, worked well as part of the soundtrack.

Every four years I enjoy watching the athletes striving to do their best, but I have mixed feelings about the games - especially when words like courageous, sacrifice and hero are pulled out. How can a swim be courageous - unless it's under enemy fire? Hero? I'll agree they are role models, but to me a hero is more than someone who performs well. And sacrifice? Sure, they sacrificed aspects of their life to get there - but it was a sacrifice they made to benefit themselves. We all prioritise parts of our life. And then there's the regular dialogue about how we don't financially support our athletes enough, or look after them well enough once they retire from sports.

The problem I have is that these athletes are simply doing their 'hobby'. An artist who doesn't earn an income, but spends all their time painting (training?) and thereby ends up in debt is seen as irresponsible. They don't expect to be supported by the state. I guess artists don't end up in regular contests.

Olympians are athletes who excel. I guess the problem is they don't produce a 'product'. Artists generally only succeed if they sell their work. There are athletes, in football or basketball, who can earn vast quantities of money because people regularly buy tickets to watch them in action. But not many people regularly pay to go and watch shotputters.

These athletes always talk of how they are "doing it for their country." I'm sure it's an honour to represent their country, but ultimately they are "doing it" for themselves. No child takes up sprinting solely because they want their country to be successful.

As a writer, I'd love to see more government funding and support given to the Arts. Many writers, musicians, artists and actors have to work full time jobs in order to support themselves. Most of them would love to be able to dedicate themselves to their art full time, training if you will.

Heck, if you give me a tracksuit and a stipend, I'll even say I'm writing for my country.


Gitte Christensen said...

On the plus side, we don't have to smile and look brave for national television as we open what turns out to be another rejection letter :)

Steve Cameron said...

Some of our athletes haven't exactly been doing that this week, have they?

I understand being disappointed, but some of the displays I've seen have been embarrassing.

Gitte Christensen said...

Hmmm, yes, not exactly ‘heroic’ behaviour, or even close to 'gracious in defeat'. Perhaps the AIS should put aside some time and money for deportment lessons rather than endlessly coaching athletes in how to spin the media with fake humbleness.