Stuck around St. Petersburg

I’m not comfortable with an Olympics that is being used as a propaganda tool by the Putin regime. Of course you know who else used the Olympics as a propaganda tool. All in all, I agree, for once, with Charles Lane when he says the Olympics aren’t worth it. Let sports have their World Championships and so on. Those don’t promote nationalism the way the Olympics do and they don’t serve the aims of despotic rulers’ propaganda campaigns as easily.

But we’re probably stuck with them for now. I hope that this Olympics at least promotes awareness of the awful situation that gays face in Russia. I find the details of the stories of torture videos too awful to contemplate, let alone read, but I was able to make it through this Kos diary on Jeff Sharlet’s GQ article (not available online yet) on gay life in Russia (Sharlet visited St. Petersburg and Moscow for the article, so the reporting is often firsthand). It’s pretty sad:

There are countless smaller, bristling moments, with names presumptuous (God’s Will) or absurd (Homophobic Wolf). There are babushkas who throw stones, and priests who bless the stones, and police who arrest the victims.

[….]

The ideas, meanwhile, are American: the rhetoric of “family values” churned out by right-wing American think tanks, bizarre statistics to prove that evil is a fact, its face a gay one, this hatred is old venom, but its weaponization by nations as a means with which to fight “globalization — not the economic kind, the human-rights kind – is a new terror.

[….]

There are three faces of homophobia in Russia: that of the state, that of the Orthodox Church, and that of the fringe. And yest they’re one– a kind of Trinity. The state passes laws, the Church blesses them, and the fringe puts them into action. The state is the mind of hate, the church now, its heart, the fringe is made up of its many hands. Some use the courts, some use fists. There are street fighters, and there are polished men and women who attent international conferences on “family values.”

105 replies
  1. 1
    c u n d gulag says:

    Peter the Great tried to take Russia into the 17th Century.
    With limited success- and a massive body-count.
    And despite the centuries since then of torture, killing, imprisonment, wars, Revolutions, and mayhem – including Lenin’s and Stalin’s best efforts to modernize that country – in many ways, it still remains mired in the 16th Century.

    And look at poor, poor Ukraine.
    I’m 1st generation Russian/Ukrainian, and I’m thankful for this country – as fucked-up as it is.
    It pays to remind myself of that every few days.

  2. 2
    MikeJ says:

    Let’s just hold the Olympics in Greece every four years. The international community can chip in and build new stadia, and if need be replace them every 10 Olympics.

    Don’t know what to do about the winter. Switzerland?

  3. 3
    Tommy says:

    Can somebody explain the Orthodox Church in Russia to me. I mean that was why Pussy Riot ended up in jail isn’t it. If they did the same thing at a mosque I don’t think they would have ended up in jail. I don’t understand this dynamic and it seems important to understand Russia.

  4. 4
    Cacti says:

    I expect multiple NBC puff pieces on what a misunderstood but actually swell guy Putin is.

  5. 5
    Cacti says:

    @MikeJ:

    Don’t know what to do about the winter. Switzerland?

    Get rid of them.

    Most winter olympic sports are the pastimes of the rich or upper middle class, and they already have their own world championships.

  6. 6
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @c u n d gulag: And look at poor, poor Ukraine.

    While the situation there is perilous and getting more so, the Kyiv Post is reporting that anti-government protesters have blockaded or seized gov’t administration buildings in 10 out of the 25 oblast (like a US state, essentially) capitals. That is a show of force far greater than what I’d have expected a week ago.

  7. 7
    Ben Franklin says:

    But, We are the World…..and what about the sanctity of Amateur Athletics?

  8. 8
    Ruckus says:

    I’m sure glad that I didn’t grow up in the kind of family that demands that everyone is exactly the same. Mine was dysfunctional enough without the added pressure of being something/someone we weren’t. Can not imagine being told for 15-20 yrs that my life would never be my own.

  9. 9

    Some use the courts, some use fists. There are street fighters, and there are polished men and women who attend international conferences on “family values.”

    For some reason I thought of Santorum’s ‘unconditional love’ when I got to this part. Fucking wingers, they are all the Gaia-damned same, here, there, everywhere.

  10. 10
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @MikeJ:

    The entire point of the Olympics at present is for the IOC to spread the graft around the planet

    The Olympic movement has a distinctly late 19th century/early 20th centory air about it, and nationalism was the hot thing during that period. So, naturally, the Olympics reflect that, and the IOC doesn’t want to let go of it, because it’s so central to the entire shebang.

  11. 11
    Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN) says:

    @Cacti: I’m in a position where I actually know five of this year’s Olympians and have participated in several fund raisers to help some of the parents get to Sochi to watch their daughters play. There is one time every four years when the world actually cares about their sport, something that is true of just about all of the winter sports outside of figure skating and men’s hockey. So I’m not on this particular bandwagon.

    There are many problems with the Olympics, mostly having to do with the people that organize them. The same is true of the World Cup and FIFA in general. But that doesn’t change what the athletes themselves are doing and the Olympics are much bigger than any of the respective World Championships. For women’s hockey it’s the one time a national team stays together long enough to actually be a team rather than a collection of All-Stars thrown together at the last minute.

    And without the draw of the Olympics, there are a bunch of the sports, such as bobsledding, that would face a much diminished international competition.

    And if none of that convinces you, ask what we would do without the impeccable fashion sense of the Norwegian men’s curling team to inspire us and lead the way.

  12. 12
    El Cid says:

    Of course you know who else used the Olympics as a propaganda tool.

    Marcus Aurelius?

  13. 13
    Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN) says:

    @Ben Franklin:

    . . . and what about the sanctity of Amateur Athletics?

    You’re only about 25 years out of date.

  14. 14
    Ben Franklin says:

    @Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN):

    Heh. Even 40 years ago, the idea of amateur was out-of-date.

    Ask Prefontaine, or rather, ask his memory.

  15. 15
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Cacti: Track and Field also has its own world championship as well. Should we also drop sailing, tennis, fencing and the equestrian events from the summer games for class reasons?

  16. 16
    Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN) says:

    @Ben Franklin: Yes, but the Olympics stopped being about amateurism in any way about 25 years ago when they explicitly allowed professionals in. The NCAA is the only one trying to defend that ideal now.

  17. 17
    sparrow says:

    I agree, the Greeks should claim they are running the only real olympics… bring it back to the same location every 4 years instead of letting the stadia waste away. I would go to a Greek olympics with traditional events. It was all about who was the best individual, not the best country.

  18. 18
    Cacti says:

    @Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN):

    I’ve always been pretty meh about the idea of a winter olympics. The (highly corrupted) idea of the olympics is an egalitarian international athletic event. Anyone, anywhere can perform a sport that involves running, jumping, or throwing.

    Quite the opposite of ice skating, sledding, skiing and snowboarding in any form, which are confined almost entirely to Europe and North America.

  19. 19
    Cacti says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Should we also drop sailing, tennis, fencing and the equestrian events from the summer games for class reasons?

    Yes.

    Next question.

  20. 20
    Cacti says:

    I’d also add that if winning olympic gold isn’t the pinnacle achievement for your sport, why bother having it as an olympic event? i.e. Tennis, Men’s Hockey, Soccer, Men’s Basketball, etc.

  21. 21
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Tommy:
    If Pussy Riot were to do in front of a mosque what they did in front of a church, they might not have the Orthodox Church cheering on their punishment. They might have some Chechen hotheads with guns coming after them while being cheered on by much of Russia’s Muslim population.

  22. 22
    Ben Franklin says:

    Ukraine protests going global. Makes Occupy look like dilettantes.

    http://21stcenturywire.com/201.....es-go-home

  23. 23
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Cacti: Just the events from the original Greek games then? Or just the ones that meet your standards of being sufficiently proletarian?

  24. 24
    Amir Khalid says:

    Hilfe mir, DougJ!
    I have a comment in moderation for using the name of a Russian rock band. Would you be so kind as to release it?

  25. 25
    aimai says:

    @Tommy: Jeezus, look it up. Random blog comments are not the best place to get a full understanding of a centuries old lunatic church and its current enmeshment with a virulent strain of homophobic nationalism in Mother Russia.

  26. 26
    Cacti says:

    And since we’re on the topic, if snowboarding is a winter olympic event, why isn’t skateboarding a summer olympic event? It’s the sport that birthed snowboarding and has a lot more participants globally.

  27. 27
    muricafukyea says:

    If your delicate fee fees are all hurt because Russia was too busy becoming a modern country to get around to gay issues…why is your hero Snowden hiding out there and why are all of you supportive of Russia on that?

    Hypocritical much?

  28. 28
    Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN) says:

    @Cacti:

    The (highly corrupted) idea of the olympics is an egalitarian international athletic event.

    I have no idea where you came up with this because it isn’t true of any Olympics ever held anywhere.

  29. 29
    Cacti says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Just the events from the original Greek games then? Or just the ones that meet your standards of being sufficiently proletarian?

    You could probably even keep the equestrian events, since the original olympics did include chariot racing.

    If it’s a sport with limited geographic availability, or requiring thousands of dollars worth of specialized equipment just to participate at a novice level, ditch it. I take it you’re quite the fan of “global” sports that most of the globe doesn’t have access to.

  30. 30
    Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN) says:

    @Cacti:

    I’d also add that if winning olympic gold isn’t the pinnacle achievement for your sport, why bother having it as an olympic event? i.e. Tennis, Men’s Hockey, Soccer, Men’s Basketball, etc.

    With regards to men’s hockey this is a Americacentric comment. For the Europeans, the Olympics are huge and one of the reasons the NHL players are still there is because there were a number of European players who basically said that they would be playing for the KHL in Europe if the NHL decided to stop participating. It’s pretty big in Canada, too.

    For tennis, I heard Andy Roddick interviewed a few years ago and he said that the Olympics was a very different experience than a Grand Slam and while it wasn’t necessarily bigger he wouldn’t describe it as lesser, either.

  31. 31
    Roger Moore says:

    @Ben Franklin:

    Even 40 years ago, the idea of amateur was out-of-date.

    Jim Thorpe would say it’s been out of date for at least 100 years.

  32. 32
    Ben Franklin says:

    @Roger Moore:

    Yeah, but they took back his medals when he played baseball to earn money one Summer, just so the perception could go on, and on….

  33. 33
    Roger Moore says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Should we also drop sailing, tennis, fencing and the equestrian events from the summer games for class reasons?

    Yes.

  34. 34
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Cacti: Global? Why does it have to be global?

  35. 35
    Cacti says:

    @Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN):

    Okay, even if Olympic gold is the crowing achievement in men’s ice hockey (highly debatable), it’s not the case for Tennis.

    Poll the top 100 men’s and women’s players, and ask them if you only had one major win for your career, which would you choose: Wimbledon or the Olympics?

  36. 36
    Roger Moore says:

    @Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN):

    The NCAA is the only one trying to defend that ideal now.

    The NCAA isn’t defending that ideal; they’re using that ideal as an excuse to underpay their employees.

  37. 37

    Putin scares me. WTH is happening in Ukraine?

  38. 38
    Cacti says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Global? Why does it have to be global?

    Because otherwise, you end up with the winter olympics: cold white people doing rich people sports.

  39. 39
    Chris says:

    The ideas, meanwhile, are American

    I nitpickingly object on behalf of my other country, which spent four years under a proudly fascist government with the innocuous motto “Work, Family, Motherland.”

    Nationalist bigots aren’t very creative. They tend to be the same the world over. “Family values.” My-country-could-beat-up-your-country chest-thumping. Pseudoscientific nonsense rigged to crap out the prejudices they want to believe in.

    There are three faces of homophobia in Russia: that of the state, that of the Orthodox Church, and that of the fringe. And yest they’re one– a kind of Trinity. The state passes laws, the Church blesses them, and the fringe puts them into action. The state is the mind of hate, the church now, its heart, the fringe is made up of its many hands. Some use the courts, some use fists. There are street fighters, and there are polished men and women who attent international conferences on “family values.”

    And yes, this too looks sadly familiar.

  40. 40
    SiubhanDuinneOnIPhone5 says:

    @aimai:

    Random blog comments are not the best place to get a full understanding of a centuries old lunatic church and its current enmeshment with a virulent strain of homophobic nationalism in Mother Russia.

    Much funnier, though.

  41. 41

    OT: But not really since it is Caturday. I would disable Adblock Plus for this pop-up.

  42. 42
    karen says:

    I have no interest in watching the Olympics in a country that is so rabidly homophobic. Only it’s not homophobia really because they have no fear of homosexuality. They have hatred. Homophobia is really not an accurate word.

    I feel bad for the athletes who have trained for the Olympics and I don’t blame them. But seeing the Olympics and the heartwarming stories that will be featured will make me toss my cookies.

    If the Russian government or police harm or even kill one of the US team or delegation or representatives, etc because they were GLBT, would the US even do anything?

  43. 43
    Cacti says:

    @Roger Moore:

    The NCAA isn’t defending that ideal; they’re using that ideal as an excuse to underpay their employees.

    This.

    The NCAA is fighting to preserve a multibillion dollar cartel, that profits from performance of unpaid athletes, who are forced to go through the college farm system if they hope to play their sport professionally.

  44. 44
    p.a. says:

    @Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN): You’re only about 25 years centuries out of date. Fixt

  45. 45
    MikeJ says:

    @Roger Moore: Olympic sailing isn’t racing those America’s cup monstrosities. It’s one or two person dinghies.

    A Laser class boat costs a helluva lot less than 12 years of tumbling lessons. About $6k tricked out.

  46. 46
    Ben Franklin says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    UNcivil unrest

  47. 47
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Ben Franklin: Those who “encircled” the US Embassy in Kyiv for a few hours were mostly paid thugs.

  48. 48
    AWJ says:

    @Ben Franklin:
    “21st Century Wire” does not seem like a reliable source:

    Our site was officially launched in December 2009 at the UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen, initially as a vehicle to expose the collectivist mythology behind global warming and climate change, and has since expanded coverage to include exposés on intelligence, foreign policy, the war on terror, technology and Wall Street.

    The phrase “pro-EU Soros rent-a-mobs” in the first sentence of the article is also rather a red flag.

  49. 49
    PhilbertDesanex says:

    @El Cid: Ronald Reagan in 1984?

  50. 50
    AWJ says:

    @Ben Franklin: “21st Century Wire” does not seem like a reliable source:

    Our site was officially launched in December 2009 at the UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen, initially as a vehicle to expose the collectivist mythology behind global warming and climate change, and has since expanded coverage to include exposés on intelligence, foreign policy, the war on terror, technology and Wall Street.

    The phrase “pro-EU Soros rent-a-mobs” in the first sentence of the article is also rather a red flag.

  51. 51
    PsiFighter37 says:

    Speaking of teh gays, apparently some numskulls in Oklahoma are considering banning marriage outright if same-sex marriages are allowed. Talk about cutting off your nose (and then some) to spite your face.

  52. 52
    Ben Franklin says:

    @AWJ:

    Sourcing the big pic, so the details are sketchy. http://www.theguardian.com/wor.....CMP=twt_gu

  53. 53
    Bjacques says:

    Peter the Great tried to drag Russia into the 18th century. Putin is finishing the job.

  54. 54
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @AWJ: @AWJ: Two more “tells” in that article: they quote Russia Today extensively, and they use the Russian transliteration for the name of the street where most of the tire-burning protests are taking place.

  55. 55
    MattF says:

    Saw this in the Guardian, re: price of major international sports events:

    http://www.theguardian.com/wor.....-died-2013

    Yes, you saw that right… 185 Nepalese dead in Qatar. In one year.

  56. 56
    Ben Franklin says:

    @Gin & Tonic:

    RT is on the edge of reportage and they get it wrong, but with the loaded dice of info, sometimes roll winners.

  57. 57
    El Cid says:

    @PhilbertDesanex: Since we’re talking about timeless emperors.

  58. 58
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Ben Franklin: RT is a 100% Putin-controlled propaganda outlet, as reliable as Baghdad Bob.

  59. 59
    CaseyL says:

    Johnnie Balfour, a professional snowboarder hired to build the Olympic course in Sochi, reported on the ghastly conditions: no organization, buildings thrown together (badly), accommodations that make summer camp look palatial, and more; oh, so much more. He posted a truly magnificent rant on tumblr, then was told to take it down (by whom, he doesn’t say), but much of his story made it into an Australian newspaper:

    http://www.theaustralian.com.a.....809704684#

    … and remember, this leaves out most of the awfulness.

  60. 60
    aimai says:

    @Roger Moore: Thank you for remembering him!

  61. 61
    raven says:

    Mall shooting in Maryland ongoing.

  62. 62
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Ben Franklin: why would you be surprised that loaded dice produces winners sometimes? Isn’t the whole point of loading them to produce winners? (Unless of course you have a colleague placing large don’t come bets. That’s possible).

  63. 63
    AWJ says:

    @Ben Franklin: Did you actually read the 21st Century Wire article? It’s a puff piece about pro-government counter-protesters in Kiev and how they are heroically saving Ukraine from being despoiled by “EU central bankers”. The comments are also a trove of conspiracy-theory wackaloonery and overt anti-Semitism. Rothschilds and Freemasons and John Kerry’s “big nose” (a “reference to his real identity”), oh my…

  64. 64
    Ben Franklin says:

    @Gin & Tonic:

    Really? 100%? Putin is not just a genius. He’s a god. Now let’s send him to Kiev.

  65. 65
    Cacti says:

    @Gin & Tonic:

    RT is a 100% Putin-controlled propaganda outlet, as reliable as Baghdad Bob.

    RT’s primary value in events in the Russian sphere is proximity, and occasionally access, that isn’t always available to western media. For that reason, coverage of events unfolding can sometimes be useful…as long as it’s understood that their interpretation of events will be the party line from the Kremlin.

  66. 66
    shelly says:

    I kinda like the crazy quilt of a sweater that our athletes will be wearing in the March of the Nations. Not gay at all!

    But $595? I’ll wait for it to show up on eBay in a couple of years.

  67. 67
    chopper says:

    @MikeJ:

    So there’s no years of practice or private lessons involved? You just buy a boat and are in the Olympics?

  68. 68
    Ben Franklin says:

    @AWJ:

    Ok, ok. I surrender already.

  69. 69
    MattF says:

    @raven: Oy. FYI, Columbia is a major suburban town between DC and Baltimore. It was founded in the ’60’s by James Rouse and is built around a humongous shopping mall– which is the where the shooting is taking place.

  70. 70
    Ben Franklin says:

    @Suffern ACE:

    Craps is too fast for me, unless I go for the proposition bet. Then the pit boss throttles me for counting. He doesn’t understand how difficult that is for me.

  71. 71
  72. 72
    Culture of Truth says:

    I like the Olympic Games. They’re usually fun and bring the world together, generally. Think London, Syndey, Canada, Turin. A permanent location is not a bad idea — possibly Greece or Australia for Summer, Norway or Switzerland for winter.

    I do agree they’re added too many events, it’s added to the cost of the games for little reason.

    Sure, they can be expensive, but no one told Putin to spend $50 billion, really can’t imagine what they were all thinking in putting winter games in tropical resort near a war zone.

  73. 73
    Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN) says:

    @Cacti:

    Because otherwise, you end up with the winter olympics: cold white people doing rich people sports.

    White people like these guys. Or this guy. Or this woman.

  74. 74
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @chopper: There isn’t an Olympic caliber athlete who hasn’t trained and practiced for years.

  75. 75
    scav says:

    Putinkim Olympic Village. TheTsar is RasPutin this time round.

  76. 76
    Joel says:

    @MikeJ: How about Chamonix? That was the original winter games, IIRC.

  77. 77
    Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN) says:

    @Cacti: Is this a bunch of North American white people who are headed to the Sochi games?

  78. 78
    Joel says:

    @Cacti: One notable aspect of Europe and North America is that those house countries that experience winter. Yes, money is a big part of it, but not the only.

  79. 79
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Joel: yeah. They also get winter at the right time of the year, much to the chagrin of NHL owners, who probably wouldn’t mind moving the games to Chile.

  80. 80
    MikeJ says:

    @chopper:

    So there’s no years of practice or private lessons involved? You just buy a boat and are in the Olympics?

    There is certainly practice involved, and at the highest levels there are probably coaches. I never knew anyone who got to that level. All the racing I ever did was club level stuff where it really was just show up with a boat. Of course colleges compete and have coaches.

    But my point was that $6k for a Laser makes sailing a middle class sport. Yes, it’s for someone who is dedicated to it, but Olympic sailing doesn’t require a boat that cost millions like the AC does.

  81. 81
    ruemara says:

    @AWJ: It’s not about news, it’s about confirmation bias.

    Y’all shut it about cutting sports out. I love the Olympics with a passion. I can’t do any of the sports on any of the rosters. I am, however, in favor of a Grecian permanent summer Olympics home.

  82. 82

    @sparrow: Does that mean they perform in the nude as well? I’d love to see the exploding heads in wingnut land over that.

  83. 83
    Matt says:

    The world will only be safe when the last “priest” is thrown onto a fire kindled with the last “holy book” and fed with the timbers of the last “church”.

  84. 84
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @scav: Putinkim Olympic Village. TheTsar is RasPutin this time round.

    Nice. I’ll probably watch some of the ski jumping, but in general the only thing I find more boring than the Winter Olympics is the Summer Olympics. If I still smoked pot, I think I might watch the curling.

  85. 85
    Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN) says:

    @Phil Perspective: There won’t be any female athletes, though. And only athletes of Greek or Macedonian ancestry will be allowed to compete.

    Anyone who thinks a return to the ancient ideals of the Olympics will somehow make things egalitarian, global, and un-nationalist has no fucking clue what they are talking about.

  86. 86
    gogol's wife says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    I haven’t read the whole thread, but there would be no reason for them to do it in front of a mosque. They weren’t protesting religion per se, they were protesting the relationship of the Orthodox church in Russia to the corrupt regime of Putin. Even Western sources don’t bother to get this right. I wish the three women’s “final statements” in court had gotten more publicity. They are quite clear and incisive and brilliantly formulated.

  87. 87
    CarolDuhart2 says:

    My Olympics reform would create Olympics Month.

    I would spread out the events both timewise and spatially. An American Example:

    Olympics Month (Winter) February 1-28
    A) Opening Events-Olympic Village-Figure Skating Weekend (New York City)
    B) All Skiing, Boarding,
    Bobsled Weekend (Colorado Rockies)
    C) Curling, Hockey and Related Sports (Chicago)
    D) Miscellaneous Leftover Sports Weekend and Closing Ceremony Reunion Weekend (New York City)

    May actually improve security and ratings, and let everyone in a nation feel more a part of the event. May even improve in-person attendance for some events.

  88. 88
    Tripod says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Seriously. The Brazilian soccer team isn’t made up of a bunch of Favela kids who learned on the streets. They come from the middle class and have years of organized training.

    I suppose you could move or add indoor sports (basketball, volleyball, indoor track) for a more representative winter event, but please don’t delude yourself into thinking that it won’t be the same sponsor bucks driving the whole global system. The summer games just have more nations sending a couple of flag carriers. Wealth and population size drive participation, not some goofy idea that some sports are more egalitarian.

  89. 89
    Cacti says:

    @Tripod:

    The Brazilian soccer team isn’t made up of a bunch of Favela kids who learned on the streets.

    Yup, no poor kid from the slum ever made it as a Brazilian footballer.

    Pele hardly counts, amiright?

  90. 90
    Fuzzy says:

    @shelly: It would win an ugly sweater contest hands down.

  91. 91
    Fuzzy says:

    @Cacti: I in 50 years and that was 50 years ago. The only really poor kids who make the olympic level may be from Africa these days.

  92. 92
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Cacti: Yeah, and no poor kids from the mountains ever made it big as a skier. It’s all rich people.

  93. 93
    Cacti says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Yeah, and no poor kids from the mountains ever made it big as a skier. It’s all rich people.

    Yep, lots of poor kids ski and snowboard.

    Real working class sport there.

  94. 94
    Violet says:

    I love the Winter Olympics. Really no idea why except my mom’s family is from a cold area and were competitive in speed skating and snow jumping. That was well before I was born, but I guess my mom loved watching speed skaters and I picked up the habit. So when the Winter Olympics roll around I’m always watching.

    A bit torn this year with the Sochi/Putin drama, but I’ll still be watching I’m pretty sure.

  95. 95
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Cacti: It is in Austria and Switzerland. X-C skiing is not very expensive anywhere.

  96. 96
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: If you grow up in a ski town, skiing isn’t prohibitively expensive to learn. BTW soccer isn’t cheap in the US. To get good you need to come up through the youth leagues – entry fees, travel to tournaments, hotels, and all that add up.

  97. 97
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Violet: I generally watch too, and probably because my family always did. I can’t personally relate to winter sports since I grew up in a snow-free place, have never been snow skiing and only had the opportunity to ice skate a limited number of times.

    But I still find the Olympic skiing and skating much more compelling to watch than summer games. Maybe because people running around a track aren’t as likely to go hurtling off course or collide spectacularly with fellow participants. Not that I’m hoping that happens, but the risk of it makes viewing those sports more riveting, for me, at least.

  98. 98
    burnspbesq says:

    Of course you know who else used the Olympics as a propaganda tool.

    Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, among others.

  99. 99
    Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN) says:

    @burnspbesq:

    Of course you know who else used the Olympics as a propaganda tool.

    Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, among others.

    Alcibiades

  100. 100
    Citizen_X says:

    Y’all leave fencing alone. It’s the only sport where, if you remove the safety gear, the winner will most likely kill the loser.

  101. 101
    YellowJournalism says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Seems like a lot of people don’t realize how ridiculously expensive any organized sport is for families these days. Fees are high (even for things like track) and children outgrow equipment quickly. Most schools cannot afford to purchase equipment for team members anymore or replace old equipment for the necessary/requires new versions. There are some charities and grants out there but they’re limited and hard to qualify for.

    Anyone who has dreams of reaching Olympic or even high school and college levels of playing will need money or sponsors. Eliminating events because they’re expensive for the poor does no one any good. Many poorer children are able to enter into those interest areas because of charities and sponsors who rely on the Olympics and other events to give their sport attention and interest from potential donors/supporters.

  102. 102
    Tripod says:

    Poor kids that show talent from equatorial Africa or the Caribbean might get a free academy ride courtesy of ManU or the New York Yankees, but it’s produce or buh-bye. Same deal with Brazilian soccer clubs, or up country kids living on the margins of ski resort communities.

    Sport is expensive; uniforms, equipment, facilities, coaches, travel. In terms of national sport program building, it’s really hard to cut against existing cultural sporting norms, and insanely expensive.

  103. 103
    philadlephialawyer says:

    How about, instead, maybe just for once, folks like you get off your high horse, and stop sitting in judgment on everyone and everything on the planet?

    Not every country has the same laws. Not every country recognizes the same rights. Therefore, what? It is illegitimate for countries that don’t meet with your approval to have international sporting events on their soil? Or, if they do, for them to try to use the occasion for a little boosterism?

    And world championships are touted by the host countries as well. Moreover, in team sports, there is the same “problem” of nationalism (check out the soccer World Cup). Even sports that are mostly individual like track and field and gymnastics have some “team” aspect at the international level, including world championships, and they are contested on the basis of national teams.

    As for the cost of participating and the number of countries involved, the IOC already has rules and requirements, and every sport even in the Winter Olympics is in fact contested not only by North American and European countries, but by Asian countries too. Which means that most of the countries with any kind of possibility, never mind tradition, of snow and ice sports do play. And I fail to see what is wrong with specialized sports, either.

    I think people who nay say the Olympics are dead wrong. Of course the games can’t live up to some pie in the sky expectation that politics will have no place in them, that they will somehow solve problems of economic inequality, that every country which hosts them can pass whatever litmus test that everyone else in all the other countries can come up with, and so forth. But the games actually do provide one of the few truly international, indeed, global experiences. More people more countries and more cultures share interests in international athletics than in anything else. And, other than the soccer World Cup, there is no other games that even compare to the Olympics in the scope and distribution of that interest.

    No, that doesn’t mean they are going to lead to world peace or universal human rights. But they are fun, many, many people all over the world do care about them. They are themselves a peaceful and harmless form of competition (the way that league sports provide for city to city competition on the national level), and they do represent an ideal, to be the best in the world at a sport, which means years of dedication and work in the pursuit of excellence, in many sports with no real prospect of big money. They are big spectacles, with all the good and the bad that implies.

    If you don’t like them, don’t watch them. You all have cable or dish, right? With lots and lots of channels. And DVDs and Netflix and Roku and god knows what else. Plus, you don’t have to watch TV at all.

  104. 104
    Cacti says:

    @philadlephialawyer:

    This message has been brought to you by the International Olympic Committee.

  105. 105
    philadelphialawyer says:

    @Cacti: @Cacti:

    Wow! That’s clever. And so compelling too!

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