The Wise Guise Roundtable: The Olympics

[Editor’s Note: The following conversation began by when Colin sent an e-mail to Clayton and Joseph entitled, “Olympics or NOLympics, that is the question” – this conversation followed, unedited for your reading pleasure. If our blog did podcasts, this would have been a podcast. We hope you enjoy… and perform your civic duty by voting in the poll at the bottom.]

Colin: Ok, so let’s decide on what exactly we are going to argue/debate. Seeing as I have taken a debate class back in college let’s keep it pretty formal and classy fellas. No proverbial “shit throwing” “mud slinging” “or personal attacks”. I want this to be a good clean fight, fight the Obama campaignesque attacks Joseph. So let’s decide what we are going to debate and then we can better qualify our arguments. It was nice to defeat you, Dream Team style.

Clayton: Well seeing as though you’re the one with the issue I think you should set the argument. You just argue what you think is wrong and we’ll make you look like a moron. And if you think we won’t be letting the public vote at the end you’re crazy. As far as I’m concerned you’re about to get a scarlet letter sucka.

Joseph: Colin…

You lay out your argument. We’ll respond. No mudslinging, just truth bombs.

You’ll be decimated. People will think you’re communist.

All will be right in the universe.

Eagerly awaiting your argument. Don’t worry… we’ll provide some time and space for you to rebut.

Colin: FYI, Olympic Village ran out of condoms in 08’…still want to go down this road?

Clayton: Yes.

Colin: The foundation of my argument is not whether the Olympics are good or bad, those are relative terms that can be difficult to define. My point of emphasis would be more so about the necessity of the Olympics. I will argue that globalization, the internet, and social media have allowed us many glimpses into the international world of sports. As a subsidiary topic of debate I will say that the Olympics subtly instill a sense of Americancentric worldview which can be harmful to worldwide congruency and harmony. At the end of the day I enjoy good competition as much as my fellow Americans, I just don’t see the need for us to hand out gold medals for the top Dressager and have them immortalized for all eternity. I’m looking forward to a very nostalgic and patriotic response.

Joseph: Is that what we’re actually going to post as the start to the debate? Or are you going to write something else out?

Let me know so I can explain to you why the Olympics are so damn magical.

Clayton: Also if you could go ahead and explain why any sporting events are a “necessity” that would be great!

Colin: Let me clarify necessity. There is a perception that Olympic gold medal is the highest of highs in an athletes career. I guess it is for smaller sports. The Olympics do a wonderful job of shining a spotlight onto the lesser known sports and giving exposure to events such as curling and trampolining. But I would argue that those sports are insignificant and don’t produce the revenue that the others do for the Olympics. That being said, we have plenty of world championships and annual events that allow for athletes to compete against the highest level of competition. Spacing the Olympics out in intervals of 4 years doesnt allow for an athletes full potential to be recognized in a medal count. It has been 4 years since Usain Bolt destroyed people with his speed and yet we are forced to wait a presidential term to see him compete again on “The Ultimate Stage”. So, we cannot say the Olympics are necessary because of the infrequency of competition. All it has become is a dog and pony show for countries. One race or one dismount shouldn’t be more important just because there’s a podium and a torch.

Joseph: Well, first of all, let me say I’m flabbergasted. Even the Nazis liked the Olympics, so I’m not sure what you’re thinking. Since I know you’re actually a good person, the only explanation is that you’re not thinking. Let’s break down each of your arguments so far…

Colin’s Anti-Freedom, Anti-Joy, and Anti-All Things Good Argument #1: Globalization and technology make the international world of sports more available, meaning we don’t need the Olympics anymore.

Patriotic Response sponsored by Sam Adams Beer – Brewer. Patriot: We do have more cable and satellite TV sports channels now.  We do have ESPN 3 to listen to UEFA Champions League matches in the library, at coffee shops, and at work.  We do have access to the international world of sports. But you miss the entire point of the Olympics here. The Olympics is not about one sport, one country, one rivalry, or even the availability of international sports.  It’s about all the sports on the world’s grandest stage with everyone watching.  It’s about the underdog qualifiers.  It’s about learning the stories of the best athletes in the world in the sports we’ve never heard of from countries we probably couldn’t pick out on a map.  It’s about the odds overcome to just make it to competing.  It’s about marching with your fellow countrymen in the Opening Ceremonies, bearing your country’s flag.  To lump the Olympics into the same category as UEFA EuroCup soccer or any other international sporting event is to miss the point of the Olympics. Besides, when was the last time you watched a world championship track and field event or the world championship gymnastics finals?  When was the last time you watched the sand volleyball world championships or any other event not sponsored by the NBA or NFL? To my next point…

Colin’s Anti-Freedom, Anti-Joy, and Anti-All Things Good Argument #2: The Olympics encourage an American-centric worldview, which harms international harmony.

Patriotic Response sponsored by Bob Saget, great TV dad and best host ever of America’s Funniest Home Videos: You can’t possibly be serious here, right? I’ll tell you what encourages an American-centric worldview. Your anti-Olympics argument! We’re just going to watch American-centered sports that are popular to a mass audience here in America. So you’re not an athlete worth watching, knowing about, celebrating if enough Americans don’t buy your jersey and put a poster up on their walls? America may often lead in the medal count, but we never come anywhere close to winning every medal. Most of the time, American-centered sports appear on international television. Yes, soccer, rugby, Australian football, cricket, and other sports are more popular. But, whereas we hardly see any of their athletic events here, they see many more of our major golf tournaments, playoff football games, NBA basketball games, etc. in their countries.  At the Olympics, everyone is watching every event. I heard a great story from someone the other day who was in a small African country during the last summer Olympics.  Someone from that country placed 3rd in an archery event and they showed that event over and over again on TV. Why? The whole country was proud of that person winning big on the WORLD STAGE! They’re on the Olympics medal count.  They’ve proved they’re one of the best in the world at that ancient, athletic competition. You may look at your paper every morning and see that we’re on top and move on. But the rest of the world is looking past America, to their own neighbors from their own countries who are beating everyone else in the world.

Colin’s Anti-Freedom, Anti-Joy, and Anti-All Things Good Argument #3: Handing out gold medals for Olympic champions immortalizes them for all eternity and that’s not a good thing.

Patriotic Response sponsored by the 1980 Miracle on Ice Team:  First of all, I can’t name very many gold medalists from America, much less other countries, throughout Olympic history.  So “immortalizes for all eternity” is a strong term. I’m unsure what your anti-Olympics argument is here, to be quite honest.

Colin’s Anti-Freedom, Anti-Joy, and Anti-All Things Good Argument #4: Olympic gold medals aren’t the highest of highs in an athlete’s career, unless of course it’s a “smaller, insignificant” sport that don’t produce revenue for the Olympics and therefore are not worthy. Because the Olympics is all about revenue creation at the end of the day.

Patriotic Response sponsored by Lee Greenwood: Olympics isn’t about revenue creation.  In fact, as NBC’s bidding for the telecast rights show, it is often burdensome to take on such a task for a network, a country, or a team.  But some things are beyond money. I know that’s hard to believe following U.S. professional athletic leagues on the brink of strike or lockout every offseason, but that’s true with the Olympics. And, with the exception of NBA players on the Dream Teams and possibly the soccer players, what is bigger in an athlete’s career than the Olympics? But of course, you wouldn’t really care about them. Because they’re competing in “smaller, insignificant” sports. Arguments like that are what’s American-centric, not the Olympics.

Colin’s Anti-Freedom, Anti-Joy, and Anti-All Things Good Argument #5: The Olympics only being every 4 years doesn’t allow athletes to maximize their full potential in a medal count.  We have world championships and other annual contests too.  So the Olympics every four years is just “a dog and pony show” for countries.

Patriotic Response sponsored by Andy Griffith, may he Rest in Peace: We have other contests and championships because the Olympics are only every four years. The cost, the scale, and the necessary time for qualifying, training, preparation ensures the Olympic sports can only officially be held every four years. Medals are only one of the top ways to measure these athlete’s success.  But, because it’s the world stage and has been officially recognized for centuries as the top honor (i.e. for the entire lives of every current living, competing athlete), the Olympics are the top measuring stick, although by no means the only one. What? Do you want there to be an NBA Finals every month and The Masters every other week? Rarity is what makes it great.

Colin’s Anti-Freedom, Anti-Joy, and Anti-All Things Good Argument #6: One race or one dismount shouldn’t be more important just because there’s a podium or a torch.

Patriotic Response sponsored by Freedom: This one is simple. The race or the dismount aren’t more important because there’s a podium and a torch.  The podium and the torch are there because the races, the games, the competitions are just that important.

What ya got for me next, Mr. Stovall? I haven’t even gotten to talk about why the Olympics are great for America, great for political discourse, great for unity both within and between countries yet.  I haven’t even gotten to bust out historic examples of how it’s brought leaders and nations together, reminding of us of our shared common humanity, providing one of the best examples ever of how someone can have the proper amount of pride in their country, fighting for victory without bloodshed while establishing respect for “the other” who is actually not that dissimilar from ourselves.

Can’t wait to have that argument.

Colin: Rebuttal to the Globalization comment: Due to globalization and a myriad of channels The Olympics have lost their importance. Before, The Olympics allowed for people to become aware of other countries and their athletes. My argument here is that it isn’t necessary to aggrandize the Olympic games nowadays as we did in the past. Baseball was once America’s pastime, now it’s the NFL. Is that a bad thing? No, it’s just a change in perspective.

Rebuttal to the American-centric view: You misinterpreted my argument. Chants of USA throughout the country for over a month as the Olympics begin and end. Our problem is the subtle influence winning has on our perspective of the world. “We dominate everything and we should win every sporting event, and if we don’t it’s a conspiracy!” Granted there have been moments in Olympic history where a maleficence occurred towards the USA. But, when we begin to think our “thinking” is best it can become problematic. I am not saying this is a big issue, just that it seeps into our thoughts more than we are aware. The 92′ Dream Team won every game by over 30 points so the potential take away from those lopsided victory is those countries are inferior to us in sports and “fill in the blank”. There is the inherent problem with global competition. Look at soccer and how losing is tolerated within that particular country. Or why China cared so much to beat us in the gold medal count. Go back to the playground days where a loss in kickball could hurl you into the perils of the uncool lunch table. Winning affects our self awareness and doesn’t allow for critique or even a sense of wrong doing/thinking.

Joseph: To your first point, “Estimates for the 2008 Summer Olympics opening ceremony global TV viewership varied between one and four billion,[2][3][4][5][6][7] including an estimated 842 million viewers watching on host Chinese broadcaster China Central Television.[2] A verifiable audience of 984 million tuned in to the opening ceremony at some stage, averaging at 593 million, while 778 million watched the closing ceremony.[8] The 2008 Summer Olympics is the current record holder for a multi-day broadcast. It is estimated by Nielsen Media Research that up to 4.7 billion individual viewers (70% of the world’s population) watched some part of the coverage.[9]” If we’re going to say NFL has surpassed MLB because of ratings, then clearly we have to judge the Olympics versus other international sports telecasts based on ratings. And the numbers are so high, that experts can only estimate. They can’t be calculated using normal viewing patterns because domestically and internationally, that many people are watching. It’s a scale heretofore unknown to man. It’s ancient and the modern Olympics have been around for over a century.  Every time I watch the Olympics, I find out more about varying countries’ cultures and societies now compared to in the past. I meet new athletes and hear their stories. And the ratings continue to be the highest of any other multiple-day event in TV history. You can argue they shouldn’t be as important, but you can’t argue that they aren’t to the billions of people around the world. Because billions are still watching.

To your second point, we as Americans should view our hegemonic position as the world’s top economy and top military as a responsibility to be stewarded rather than something to beat our chest about and act like the coolest frat on campus.  Agree completely. However, to say that the Olympics causes arrogance is like saying that college intramurals should be canceled because they cause frat boy arrogance or we should weaken our economy and military because they cause us to be overconfident.  I agree that America should be humble in its strength and we have a long way to go.  But there will always be countries and individuals that want to take down the top dog.  There will always be people that want to see America fail. Why should we be afraid to win? Our individual athletes train hard to compete.  The Olympics are one of the only places left in the world where meritocracy still exists in a pure form. It’s not perfect; but nothing on this side of heaven is. As I stated earlier, America never wins everything.  By virtue of competing in so much, we get upset in something every year.  The USA basketball program is a primary example of that, given our humbling loss years ago.  We can’t even take our basketball team’s greatness for granted.  So we were humbled.

And I argue that U-S-A chants from bars and homes are much more about unifying our country and celebrating a fellow countryman’s success than they are about reveling in another country’s demise.  Let me tell you a story.

It was summer of 2008. I’d gathered back at school with other student leaders to prepare for new students on campus. We were out, playing darts, drinking beers at a local dive bar called The Villager Tavern.  It was the night that Phelps swam two finals in 90 minutes.  He won the gold medal in the first and the relay team won gold medals in the second.  Upon his close victories, we put our arms around one another, and led the entire bar in the singing of the National Anthem.  I don’t remember what countries we beat.  I wasn’t celebrating their demise. My friends and the strangers singing with us were celebrating our country, our countrymen, and their success on the world’s biggest stage… with billions watching around the world.

Colin: So what were the billions of others doing while you celebrated? I just would say that people allow these “victories” to justify their view that America is the bestest in the whole world. Yes I know that is hyperbolic but I am trying to make a point of emphasis that people do let these events dictate their perspective of other countries. It’s great you want to learn and find out about other countries athletes and of course root against them in the spirit of competition.Nothing wrong with that at all. But it does affect us on a grander scale BECAUSE we place such a heightened importance on “winning” at the Olympics. I am not taking anything away from the athletes who train and dedicate their lives to winning a gold medal one day in front of millions of people. I am however concerned about how it affects the fans win or lose. You and I both know that fans can become FANATICAL. Hell I went to a school where people bled orange and cursed anything but. So I have witnessed first hand extremism and that was on a much smaller level than Nationalism.”

Joseph: I’ll never deny an occasion to speak of the irrationality and illogical nature of UT fans. However, I’m unsure of what you want or what your goal is. Should we not have the Olympics because it causes some people to be arrogant? Should we not have intramurals or fantasy football or a strong military or the most thriving economy in the world? I do wonder what the gentleman from Cordova’s point is…

Colin: One word for you. McDonalds!

Clayton: What was the word I used for that argument? Abysmal? Yes, abysmal. That’ll do. Also SHAKE IT OFF KERRI (Strug) for the win!

Joseph: Three words for you: You. Hate. Freedom.

Joseph: Clayton – can you edit our debate into a semblance of a post for the blog for tomorrow?

Clayton: I would be more willing if Colin didn’t spell like a 3rd grader.

Joseph: HAHAHAHAHAHA! [Insert Colin bitching about typing on an iPhone here]

Gosh, when are we gonna start podcasting? Maybe that’s our way to get our big break…

Colin: “Hey kids, want to be fast like Michael Johnson and break world records while wearing cool shoes? All you need to do is order this Big Mac combo with a cholate shake to wash it down amd you’ll be running sub 50 400’s in no time.” McDonald’s THE official sponsor of the Olympics…Hypocrisy at its best… duhn duhn duhn duh I’m lovin’ it!

Clayton: What’s a cholate shake?


Joseph: You’re right, Colin.  We shouldn’t allow freedom for companies to sponsor the Olympics, to help pay for the world’s largest athletic competition and help supplement the high costs of putting it on.

That’s just bad. I’m glad I’ll be canceling out your vote for President Obama this November, Colin.


Colin: Side note, I will easily concede the opening and closing ceremonies based on China’s Avataresque light spectacle. But I do wonder what those performers are up to these days…


Joseph: As I said yesterday, I wish the gentleman from the Dirty Dova would explain exactly what his main point, line of argument, and suggested alternative would be to the current Olympics.  At different times, he seems to be arguing about the corruption of the IOC, the impact of the Olympics on the host countries (inevitably both good and bad consequences), the impact on Americans’ mindset/worldview, corporate sponsorships, and athletic relevance.

And, yet, no cohesive narrative has been put together to explain exactly what he is suggesting should be done differently. Cancel The Olympics?

Sounds like terrorism to me.

Clayton: Colin if you were older I would think you might have had your hand in Munich.

Colin: Clayton, congratulations, your rent just went up. Joseph, my argument(since you got all wordy and want “coherency”) is that I think the Olympics are overrated and borderline futile. I don’t see the need for countries to spend all this money building arenas, forums, swimming thingies, tracks, etc…all for the sake of the Olympics. Seems to me like there are so many others ways to spend that money. “But Colin the Olympics generate great streams of revenue!” Maybe for that moment, but those buildings still have to be paid for. And can I see a “usage” chart for these, albeit cool facilities, spaces because it seems a little unecessary. This is just my opinion and you can take it for what its worth, but the only people who REALLY care about the Olympics are the elderly(because most were either in the war or affected by it) or young kids because of the colors and lights and parents telling them it’s important. I can’t name many Olympic athletes and maybe that’s an indictment on my patriotism or the harsh reality that the Olympics don’t matter that much to our generation. Apathy is the cool thing anyways these days. I will watch these Olympic games because there will be moments of great triumph and anguished defeat. But I will not be heart broken if we lose the medal count. The sports I most enjoy are played professionally at a very high level and they don’t need validation from an Olympic event. Therefore, maybe the Olympics don’t matter that much to me because I could care less about a marathon runner or a breast stroke, or some parallel bars. Is that UnAmerican?

No. It’s UltraAmerican because I have the freedom to not care about those events unlike other countries whose identity is so dependent on the outcomes of these events. Do we scorn and reject our fellow countrymen upon returning home defeated? No, we embrace them and say “Hey it’s ok buddy, remember we still have democracy and capitalism, things will be ok.” So to call me a terrorist and question my patriotism was the flaw in your argument, and you my friend can continue to watch Bob Saget(known as filthy comedian) and drink your Sam Adams and eat your “Freedom Fries” from McDonald’s and wear your red,white,and blue proudly. I just choose not to flaunt it, and recognize that sometimes import beer is better, and multi-ethnic foods are enjoyable, and maybe I think Dave Coulier was a better host for America’s Funniest Home Video. Does that make me less American? Not at all. So while your USA chants echo into eternity as we upset China in ping pong and thus regaining economic dominance over the world I will stand and applaud with hesitation because I know our victory will be short lived and frivolous in the grand scheme of our country’s great and rich history. USA! USA! U S ehhh

Clayton: Well shit.

Joseph: Well, that’s that. Let’s put it to the people to vote… you know, the billions who tune into the Olympics around the world. Because some of us find these athletic competitions to be significant even if not well known.  Because some of us respect tradition.  Because some of us love America AND the world.  Because some of us love freedom… we love THE OLYMPICS! Happy Opening Ceremonies, one and all!

Are the Olympics still necessary?

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Posted on by The Wise Guise in Featured, Other Sports, Roundtables, Sports, Television

5 Responses to The Wise Guise Roundtable: The Olympics

  1. Colin Stovall

    I would like to point out that I chose to become the Dark Knight that The Wiseguise needed.

  2. UTBrewster

    awww- Colin voted for himself- that’s cute

  3. CTW

    They definitely have lost a lot of relevance. I am a free-born man of the USA, and I hold to the fact that we are the best country in the world. Even with the moral decay that has been happening recently. I still hold to the Idyllic Romantic memory of the America I was born into, the 80’s. All of that is to say, the Olympics are overrated… Cheers for the argument.

  4. Pingback: The Numbers Don’t Lie – NBC Olympics Coverage | The Wise Guise

  5. Pingback: 5 Reasons Why I Love The Olympics | The Wise Guise

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