Category Archives: Olympic Games

Cancel The Rio Games

Rio

As longtime friends of the blog know, Southern Beale is a huge fan of the Olympic Games. I always have been. Some of my fondest childhood memories are of the entire family gathered around the TV in our den watching the games. There have been so many great Olympic moments forged in my memory: Peggy Fleming’s stunning performance at the 1968 Winter Games in Grenoble, France, Mark Spitz winning his record-breaking medals at the tragic Munich games, Olga Korbut and Nadia Comenici. Of course, there’s Team USA’s Miracle on Ice, and the amazing athleticism of Usain Bolt…. I could go on.

So I don’t come by this lightly when I say the Rio games should be called off, moved, events relocated elsewhere, replaced by something else, whatever.

As the New York Times reports,

On June 17, fewer than 50 days before the start of the Games, the state of Rio de Janeiro declared a “state of public calamity.” A financial crisis is preventing the state from honoring its commitments to the Olympic and Paralympic Games, the governor said. That crisis is so severe, he said, it could eventually bring about “a total collapse in public security, health, education, mobility and environmental management.” The authorities are now authorized to ration essential public services and the state is eligible for emergency funds from the federal government.

The Times used the word “catastrophe” to describe the coming games, and it’s hard not to agree. Construction is nowhere near complete for the many facilities that will house Olympic events. Some of those that have been completed have already fallen apart. There’s raw sewage and garbage floating in the water where water sports and boating events are planned. There’s the Zika virus. The Russian doping scandal. Body parts washing up on the site where the beach volleyball competition will be held.

The entire thing is a disaster and a huge embarrassment for the IOC, which picked Rio de Janeiro to make history: South America has never hosted an Olympic games, and back in 2009 Brazil was the continent’s economic powerhouse:

Unlike much of the world, which is still extricating itself from recession, Brazil’s economy is expected to grow by between 4% to 6% next year. The country is helping propel Latin America out of recession, according to a forecast released Thursday by the International Monetary Fund.

Brazil’s economy has benefited from strong demand for natural resources such as ironand timber and crops such as sugar cane and soybean. The discovery of major offshore oil deposits is expected to make it a major energy exporter by 2012. And under Lula, the government seems to have broken a cycle of hyperinflation, currency devaluations, bank failures and credit crises.

There was also the hope that the Olympic Games would push the government to address some of Rio’s long-ignored problems: the crushing poverty of the favelas, environmental pollution, crime fueled by the illegal drug trade. As has become obvious, that didn’t happen.

So, the IOC needs to pull the plug. The Olympic Games serve as the host city’s international coming-out party. It’s a major PR coup, the impetus for thousands of glowing news reports about how wonderful your city is. It’s the spark for a city’s tourism boom. And frankly, Rio doesn’t deserve it. They’ve failed to address the systemic issues that plague their city. They failed to adequately prepare for their coming-out party. They have acted like being awarded the games was the goal, while the actual “hosting” part was something some other city was going to do.

This is all on the IOC, which continually awards the games based on every criteria but the logical one: which place can best pull off an event of this magnitude.

As an aside to all of this, remember how conservatives cheered the IOC’s selection of Rio over Chicago, just to spite Obama? Remember this?

Yeah, how’s that working out for you guys? The Summer Games in Chicago would have been the perfect farewell to the Obama presidency. But of course, it’s not always about us. America has hosted more than its fair share of events. But the IOC needs to stop giving these huge international events to cities out of some kind of aspirational hope that magic will happen and the toilets will all work.

14 Comments

Filed under Olympic Games

The Olympics Sucked This Year

Am I the only one thinking this? And I’m not even talking about the U.S. medal count, which actually was pretty decent.

Let’s start with Sochi, which has to have been the worst pick for the winter games ever. Excuse me, but who picked Sochi in the first place? From everything I’ve read, this is a resort where old Communist Party aparatchiks would go to escape the Moscow winters. It was colder in Nashville than Sochi, Russia, fer crying out loud! (I’m not even joking, it really was.) And it’s not like Russia doesn’t have a lot of cold places, either. What a horrible pick.

For a lot of the events the athletes weren’t able to perform at their best, through no fault of their own. That’s a huge buzzkill to everyone. I mean, c’mon: I’m watching the final slalom event and skier after skier can’t finish because the snow is too crappy. That’s outrageous for the Olympics.

This thing had fail written all over it — indeed, #SochiFAIL was the defining Twitter account of the games. I heard Bob Costas say the games “solidified Vladimir Putin’s power in Russia” or some such nonsense but let’s be real, Costas is looking at the games through rose-colored corneas. We had news that Russian authorities planned mass killings of Sochi’s stray dogs, causing U.S. athletes to personally intervene and adopt entire families of strays. We had a reporter grill Bodie Miller on his dead brother so thoroughly that the guy who had just made U.S. ski history walked away sobbing. We had weird bathrooms and athletes locked in their dorm rooms. We had cossacks beating up the members of Pussy Riot. It was just all too much aaaagh.

Also, let me say: it’s time to edit the Olympics again. I did this with the summer games and I think it’s time tackle the winter events. I appreciate all of these new-fangled X Games events they’ve added, but there’s just too much and we need to let some go.

1- First on my list is bobsled. Bobsled is stupid. You’re in a car. I’m not saying it’s not dangerous or fun but it’s dumb. Plus, there’s two-man, two-woman and four-man. Why isn’t there four-woman? And come to think of it, why even have four-man? What are the extra people there for? To push the car you had to make bigger and heavier to hold them? Nope, you’re outta here.

2- I don’t get luge and skeleton. You’re on your back on one, your stomach on the other. Either way, it’s advanced sledding. Meh.

3- I liked watching the ski cross and snowboard cross, but I don’t understand the rule that lets every single person fall down and come tumbling across the finish line and whomever makes it across first wins. Seems like you should at least be vertical to win.

4- Biathlon has to go, because it’s boring, and also it’s like awarding someone a medal for being a sniper. It’s too militaristic. We already have a competition for militarism, it’s called war. And why rifles? Why not archery? Seems like that would be harder.

Or, on second thought, maybe they could combine it with ski jump — maybe in homage to SNL’s hilarious Claudine Longet Invitational skit from so long ago.

I dunno. I think it was a big, fat dud this year. Even with Jimmy Kimmel’s “Wolf In The Hall” prank.

16 Comments

Filed under Olympic Games

I Got … Fever!

As many of my longtime readers know, I am a huge fan of the Olympic games — winter, summer, I love ’em all (mostly I love making fun of NBC’s lame coverage of the games; let’s see if they do better this time — though I’m not going to enjoy seeing Jennatonic on my TeeVee. Falling upward, indeed).

Even though the opening ceremonies aren’t until tomorrow, the games officially begin today. It appears the most popular new Olympic sport is figuring out the toilets in Sochi (if you’re on Twitter, then you must follow the @SochiProblems Twitter feed, it’s hilarious.)

The bizarre communal toilets have received a lot of attention:

dual toilets

And then there’s this:

Your bowel movement got a "10" from the German judge

Your bowel movement got a “10” from the German judge

And this:

Figure this one out, we dare you

Puzzle toilet: a new Olympic event?

I’ve been to Russia, granted it was 30-something years ago, but I don’t recall the toilets being any different there than anywhere else in the world. So I find all of this very amusing.

All kidding aside, one new event I’m especially excited to see is the women’s ski jump. This will be the first time women have been allowed to compete in the Olympics — men’s ski jumping has been an event since 1920! — and I couldn’t be more proud of our athletes. USA! USA! USA!

In 2010 I got some attention for this post, Let The Women Jump, where I unearthed some hilarious excuses made by IOC officials as to why we ladies shouldn’t be allowed to compete in this event — “medical” reasons like, I dunno, uteri flying through the air or something?

Women ski jumpers protested at the Vancouver games, pointing out that American ski jumper Lindsey Van actually beat the men’s record on the ski jump used by athletes in the Vancouver games. Back then I wrote:

Although some very thin and lame excuses have been floated around, what it seems to boil down to is that the European men don’t want to be shown up by a bunch of girls, one of whom holds the record on the actual ski jump used at the Vancouver games.

Yes that’s right, Lindsey Van beat the men’s record on the exact same ski jump the men will be sliding down to claim their Olympic medals this week.

After that post ran I got a thank-you note from Women’s Ski Jumping USA and an autographed photo of the team. For an obscure little blogger in Nashville, Tennessee, that really warmed my heart. And now the women get to jump! How awesome is that?

I’m still unclear on one thing:

While women will compete in only one event—the individual normal hill competition—men will compete in three: the individual normal hill competition, the individual large hill competition, and the team event.

I’m thrilled the women get to compete for Olympic gold for the first time in history but I don’t understand why we only get one event whereas the men get three. I mean, really?

Let me add, your Southern Beale is very uncoordinated and is also not very good with heights. The only ski jumping you will see me do is the kind that involves a Wii Fit board on the den floor. But let me say, I rock the ski jump on Wii. So watch out, Lindsay Van!

6 Comments

Filed under Olympic Games

Editing The Olympics

We’re closing the door on the Summer Olympic Games and people: I’m exhausted.

Okay, here’s the deal. There are too many events. There, I said it.

Some of these sports aren’t even sports. And I find out that in 2016 they’re adding rugby and golf? Please, there needs to be a rule, sorta like the one the Democrats passed when they took over the House in 2006: any new sport has to be offset by removing an old one.

Here are my suggestions for events to be axed:

• Dressage. Dancing horses to music? Not a sport. Nope.

• Skeet shooting. Sure it takes skill but no, not a sport. If you can do it without cracking a sweat, it doesn’t count. And fine, for those of you saying I’m being unfair, then get rid of archery, too. And hell, take fencing with you while you’re at it. Just ’cause that’s how I roll.

• Rhythmic gymnastics. Good lord, I caught some of the dancing girls with their little hoops and ribbons today and just wanted to laugh. You ladies belong in a fucking parade, not at the Olympics. Yes, it’s pretty, I’m sure it’s hard, but I don’t see anyone handing out gold medals for performing the Pas De Quatre in Swan Lake, either. So, no medal for you.

• Synchronized swimming. We called this water ballet when I was at summer camp 30+ years ago. Yes, it’s hard, but it’s silly as hell. Put some spangles on your bathing cap and take that shit to Vegas. If I saw it in an Esther Williams movie, it doesn’t get to go to the Olympics.

• Sailing. Again, I know it’s fun, I know it takes skill, but I don’t get why you go to the Olympics with a sailboat but not, say, a skateboard. Sailing isn’t really a spectator sport. If I can’t watch it on TV, it doesn’t get to be at the Olympics. I’ll make an exception for the marathons and cycling.

Look I’m not trying to be a hard-ass about this. There are just too many events. And there are other events that aren’t even included, like Equestrian Vaulting, which actually would be cool to watch. Or cool stuff they got rid of, like the obstacle race in swimming. Wouldn’t it be fun to see Michael Phelps do that? Check it out, some Brits revived the event for charity, it’s hilarious. Nope, it hasn’t been an Olympic event in over 100 years.

I know there are rules about this stuff, about what gets included and what doesn’t. There has to be some kind of international governing body and yada yada. Fine, all I’m saying is, table tennis? Really? What about Frisbee golf, can that be a sport too? They’ve got a governing body. Or what about jousting? They’ve got an international governing body, too. I think that would be way more awesome to watch.

This is the TV age, people. Stuff needs to be interesting. You know what makes something interesting? Risk of serious injury, dismemberment or death. We need more sports like that in the Summer Olympics.

So I’ve got one word for the IOC: edit.

Also, NBC? I’m still mad at you. You still suck.

31 Comments

Filed under Olympic Games

Something Is Different About Gabby Douglas

[UPDATE]:

In comments, Huckster reminds us that Jordyn Wieber was “supposed to be” America’s gymnastics sweetheart this Olympics. It was “her turn.” That pre-ordained narrative — bias, if you will — has certainly been more than evident in NBC’s coverage. They’ve been having the sadz all over the place and at some point you just want to scream, “Get over it! Jordyn Wieber didn’t make the cut. Move on, already.”

And this goes back to my point about the media’s suckitude over the past few years. One of their worst sins, be it in covering politics, current affairs, sports, or anything else, is getting a goddamned narrative in their heads and then running with it, facts be damned. Like: the Tea Party is something new and shiny! (No, it’s not, it’s the same conservative base we’ve always had, just more willing to follow orders from Fox News). Or: Saddam was involved in 9/11 and was amassing WMDs for an attack! (Obviously, in hindsight, completely false).

So maybe that’s a big part of it, too.

———————————————–

Hey you guys, guess what! Yahoo! News found people saying mean things on the internet! I know, unbelievable, right? Stop the presses!

/sarcasm

And then there’s this from the more seasoned sportswriter Dan Wetzel:

And it is the smile that will haunt every other competitor she left in a heap behind her – the sweet, wonderful smile of one of the most cold-blooded sporting assassins you’ll ever find.

Wow. Hyperbole, much? The sweet little 16-year-old her teammates have dubbed “the flying squirrel” is suddenly likened to the female incarnation of Jason Bourne?

I’m happy to write this one off to the linguistic pretensions so common in sports journalism, but I have to point out that the Washington Post’s Express Night Out omitted Douglas from its coverage of the women’s gold medal team win earlier this week. So I just have to wonder: what is different about Gabby Douglas? Thinking … thinking ….

More than one blogger has cried foul and rushed to use the “r” word. Personally, I’d prefer to blame the pervasive suckitude we’ve seen across all areas of the news media in recent years, especially low-rent outfits like Yahoo! News. Maybe they’re just picking up on the general mean-spiritedness which has overtaken our national discourse. But they need to cut it out.

We have a long tradition in this country of elevating our medal-winning Olympiads to national hero status; female gymnasts, in particular, are immediately transported from the Olympic podium to America’s Sweetheart. Gabby Douglas is a gorgeous young woman with a 1,000-watt smile. I can’t for the life of me understand why she wouldn’t get the same devotion we always heap on our star athletes.

Unless ….

15 Comments

Filed under Media, Olympic Games

NBC Really Unclear On How The Internet Works

[UPDATE]:

Guy Adams released from Twitter jail.

——————————————————————–

NBC filed a complaint with Twitter against British reporter Guy Adams over the following, prompting Twitter to suspend his account:

Well done, NBC. Now the ensuing controversy over Adams’ Twitter suspension has sent Gary Zenkel’s work e-mail address to thousands if not tens of thousands more people than Adams’ original Tweet. You guys really don’t know how the internet works, do you?

This just explains so much. This explains the utter failure of their broadcast, their “man on the street” coverage, or why it’s impossible to access anything on their livestreaming unless you first “login with your TV provider credentials.” In other words, you have to have cable or satellite service and you must give NBC your account number. Doesn’t capitalism RAWK!

This has been an utter fiasco. And honestly, I’m at the point where I say, fuck’em. Fuck the Olympics. I could give a crap. Trying to wrench every last ounce of ad revenue from an international sporting event that’s supposed to be all kumbaya has just ruined the experience. I could give a fuck.

NBC can DIAF for all I care.

16 Comments

Filed under media, Olympic Games, twitter

WTF, NBC?

[UPDATE]:

You can watch the events live on Canadian television.

————————————–

I don’t care how much money they cough up. After the sheer incompetence and nincompoopery on display last night, NBC should be banned from ever broadcasting the Olympic Games again.

Was it really necessary for Matt Lauer and Meredith Viera to offer “color commentary” during the opening ceremonies, where pop music was an integral part of the show? Geeez, do you people talk in the movie theater, too? I mean, I’m grooving to a classic Rolling Stones song and then Lauer opens his yap to give us some random piece of trivia he pulled from the Encyclopaedia Britannica. Dude, if I cared about that shit I’d hit the Google.

Did some producer really think it was a good idea to break up the opening ceremonies broadcast with a bank of commercials every 3 minutes? Did you not get that this was a show which should be viewed in large blocks?

What exactly is the reason you didn’t broadcast the tribute to victims of terror? We got that weird Michael Phelps interview instead. WTF, NBC?

And then we get to the Parade of Nations, where Lauer helpfully reminds us that Albania has zero chance of winning any medals but, God love ’em, they’re showing up anyway. Ain’t that great! And oh look, there’s the MittBot3000, whose Human-Emotion Software Upgrade appears to be functioning, at least temporarily. Bob Costas tells us that, regardless of politics, you’ve gotta admit he really saved our asses in 2002 by turning the Salt Lake City games around! You gotta admit that! No, I don’t have to admit anything — not until you admit that he only “saved” the games with $1.5 billion of our money. He didn’t build that, not without a bucketload of help from the rest of us. I’m really tired of these self-perpetuating media memes. Just quit the BS.

Look, I’m an Olympics junkie. I love the games — winter, summer, the opening ceremonies, the closing ceremonies, you name it. When the summer games were in Atlanta and the torch came through Nashville, I jogged alongside it. I absolutely love everything about the Olympic Games — I even like those cheesy, heartstring-tugging “upclose and personal” bios of athletes which everyone else always mocks. I eat all that shit up.

But this year the sheer stupidity of the commentary has just ruined it for me.

30 Comments

Filed under Media, Olympic Games

Romney: For Govt. Handouts Before He Was Against Them

How did Mitt Romney turn the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games into such a financial success? Just your modern conservative grift, of course! By funneling taxpayer money away from public services and straight into the pockets of private, for-profit entities. From the memory hole, December 2001 Sports Illustrated edition:

For the past few years, while attention was focused on the Great Olympic Bribery Scandal—in which Salt Lake City boosters dispensed as much as $7 million in gifts, travel, scholarships, medical care, jobs and other goodies to IOC members (and their relatives and companions) to ensure that Utah’s capital city would be chosen to host the 2002 Winter Games—private and public interests have siphoned an estimated $1.5 billion out of the U.S. Treasury, all in the name of those same Olympics. Two months before the Games, Utah has already walked away with the gold while setting records in four categories:

Total federal handouts. The $1.5 billion in taxpayer dollars that Congress is pouring into Utah is 1� times the amount spent by lawmakers to support all seven Olympic Games held in the U.S. since 1904—combined. In inflation-adjusted dollars.

Enrichment of private interests. For the first time, private enterprises—primarily ski resorts and real estate developments-stand to derive significant long-term benefits from Games-driven congressional giveaways.

Most government entities tapped for cash. With all the skill, grace and precision of a hockey team on a power play, Utah’s five-member congressional delegation has used the Olympics to drain money from an unprecedented number of federal departments, agencies and offices—some three dozen in all, from the Office of National Drug Control Policy to the Agriculture Department.

Most U.S. tax dollars per athlete. Federal spending for the Salt Lake City Games will average $625,000 for each of the 2,400 athletes who will compete. (Not a penny of it will go to the athletes.) That’s a 996% increase from the $57,000 average for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. It’s a staggering 5,582% jump from the $11,000 average for the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles. Again, these are inflation-adjusted dollars. (If the minimum wage had gone up at the same pace since ’84, the average McDonald’s hamburger flipper today would earn $190 an hour.)

Earmarks, gotta love ’em. This is why business people make such lousy public servants. They don’t understand the concept of government being not-for-profit, the idea of the public good, the commons, or that the Treasury is not their personal slush fund. All they know how to do is grift and fleece and help their friends.

It’s that overarching sense of entitlement: what’s mine is mine, and what’s yours is mine.

The article takes an in-depth look at the billionaires and multi-millionaires who got ever-richer at the taxpayer trough thanks to Mitt Romney’s boondoggle, plus some of the convoluted schemes and sleight-of-hand maneuvering that made it all happen. For instance, check out C.C. Myers, billionaire construction magnate and private developer, who got the sweetest deal of all: a brand-new, two-mile-long road (and utilities!) built straight through his private real estate development, all paid for by the federal government. Here’s the best part:

One obstacle remained to the speedy construction of the two-mile access road, to be known as Bear Hollow Drive. If the Utah Department of Transportation, the state agency responsible for highway construction, handled the job, it could insist on building the road to meet both county and state standards, a costly requirement. Again, not to worry. The Olympics make all things possible.

The Utah Sports Authority assigned responsibility to the state’s Division of Facilities Construction & Management, an agency that builds buildings, not highways. The result might have been anticipated: a winding, two-lane road with grades exceeding county standards and prone to slides and sinkholes.

Regulations, schmegulations! Who needs ’em! They’re just an oppressive block to job creators! Who cares if public money paid for a crappy road, prone to slides and sinkholes? Myers doesn’t. After all, it’s the public who pays to clear off the debris and fix the potholes. Plus, he made a mint:

The road paid off handsomely for Myers and his partners. County assessment records show that in 1990 the Summit Ranch land was valued for tax purposes at about $3 million. Ten years later the land alone—excluding the houses that had been built—was valued at $48 million, a sixteenfold increase. In the last year sale prices for homes in the partnership’s development, known as Sun Peak, have ranged between $320,000 and $1.5 million.

Welcome to Mitt Romney’s world. You want more of that good ol’ fashioned American grift? Where the 1% can pretend to be hardy, boot-strap pulling American entrepreneurs who got where they are by the sweat of their brow? Hoping you won’t notice they’ve got their hands in the taxpayer till? Then vote for Mitt Romney next November, he’ll subject the whole country to his warped notion of free market principles.

2 Comments

Filed under 2012 presidential election, Mitt Romney, Olympic Games

>Great Olympic Moments

>I think if Tennessee ever hosted the winter Olympic games they might look something like this:

http://www.liveleak.com/e/077_1266518913

9 Comments

Filed under Olympic Games

Let The Women Jump

Welcome, Eschatonians!

I’ve always wondered why there is no women’s ski jump event in the Winter Olympics. And literally, I have always wondered that, ever since I was a little kid, because it’s obvious women have been doing every other winter sport in the games–luge, downhill skiing, ice hockey, etc. So women’s ski jumping has always been notable for its absence.

It makes no sense: we can fly through the air on snowboards, do back flips on the moguls, yet we can’t ski jump? What’s up with that? Especially since men’s ski jumping has been an Olympic event since the 1920s.

It seems the issue is a hot topic this year and via this MSNBC.com video I finally have my answer. Although some very thin and lame excuses have been floated around, what it seems to boil down to is that the European men don’t want to be shown up by a bunch of girls, one of whom holds the record on the actual ski jump used at the Vancouver games.

Yes that’s right, Lindsey Van beat the men’s record on the exact same ski jump the men will be sliding down to claim their Olympic medals this week. I ask you: how fucked up is that?

This quote cracked me up:

In 2005, Gian Franco Kasper, FIS president and a member of the IOC, said that he didn’t think women should ski jump because the sport “seems not to be appropriate for ladies from a medical point of view.”

Oh my God are we still having that same argument? Seriously? In this day and age? What does Gian Franco Kasper think is going to happen? Vaginas scattered all over the hill? Menstrual blood on the start bar? Boobies flying through the air?

If you think about it, it seems like men with all that stuff dangling around down there would be less “medically” suited to a whole bunch of sports, not just ski jumping. Imagine if one of y’all’s testicles just flew off in mid-air. Someone could get hurt. An eye could get poked out.

Even worse is IOC member Dick Pound, who withdrew his head from his ass long enough to utter this asinine warning to the women ski jumpers:

“If in the meantime you’re making all kinds of allegations about the IOC and how it’s discriminating on the basis of gender,” he warned, “the IOC may say, ‘Oh yeah, I remember them. They’re the ones that embarrassed us and caused us a lot of trouble of trouble in Vancouver, maybe they should wait another four years or eight years.'”

Oh, man. Is that a threat? Are you fucking serious?

You know what I’d like to see? I’d like to see all female athletes stick together on this one–and I mean all of them. Skaters, skiers, gymnasts, track stars, tennis players, golfers, you name it. Because if bogus “medical reasons” and lies about “competitiveness” are still being used to bar women athletes from the Olympic games, then they will be used to bar women from every avenue of achievement. The Olympic Games are not just about medals; for the athletes involved, it’s about sponsorships, it’s about access to gear and training facilities. It’s about validating your sport.

In the meantime, to learn more about the isssue or help the cause, go to Women’s Ski Jumping USA.

Rebel against the patriarchy–and the stupidity!

28 Comments

Filed under Olympic Games, women's rights