The Olympics: A Majority of Losers

You are quite right to deplore the negative aspects of the Olympics: the politics, the hype, the national rivalries, the commercialism and, above all, the emphasis on winning. You are absolutely right to say that the Greeks put us on the wrong path when they made their games competitive. Where were the Stoics when they did that? Where was Socrates?

These are, of course, the questions the athletes ask. They know that the press and the advertising agencies are to blame for brainwashing the world for their nefarious reasons. The athletes play along for many reasons, including corporate support responsibilities, but also because they enjoy the sport. They are used to losing. Before being chosen to compete in the Olympics, each one of them has lost many races but, still, keeps going – not in order to win eventually – they know the chances may be slim – but because they enjoy being admired and, no doubt, they enjoy the sexual (and other) rewards. They deserve them because most of them are nice to look at. And they work hard.

So let us be democratic about this. The majority of Olympic athletes are losers. So are the majority of those of us who are not.

Just don’t tell the press about this.

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5 responses to “The Olympics: A Majority of Losers

  1. A nice thought. But nevertheless, the nationalistic ballyhoo really spoils it for me.

  2. The Greeks went further in picking winners than the modern Olympics: There was only one winner- no silver or bronze!

  3. As in other areas in life, in high-level sports the ‘leverging’ of talent, smarts, youthful (sex-)appeal, and self-promotion drive the pursuit of excellence, with the expectation of maximizing ‘this worldly’ rewards.

  4. from Montaigne’s essay “Of Presumption” (~1588): “Dionysius the Elder esteemed nothing of his own so highly as his poetry. At the time of the Olympic games, with chariots surpassing all others in magnificence, he also sent poets and musicians to present his verses, with royally gilded and tapestried tents and pavilions. When they came to deliver his verses, the grace and excellence of the pronunciation at first drew the attention of the people; but when later they came to ponder the ineptitude of the work, they grew first scornful, and, becoming more and more bitter in their judgment, they presently flew into a fury, and ran to all his pavilions and knocked them down and tore them to bits in resentment.”
    Could this by the reason Poetry is no longer an Olympic event?

    • Yes, it could, but we will have to concede that in recent years the Olympic hosts – including the Russians – have made efforts to play cultural Games as well.