Tag Archives: Sports

Cancel The Rio Games


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.


Filed under Olympic Games

First They Came For The Immigrants

Delaware’s governor says if Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signs her state’s law legalizing gay discrimination, the NFL should move next year’s Super Bowl elsewhere. The 2015 Super Bowl is supposed to be held in Glendale, AZ.

To this I say, yes, a thousand times yes. There need to be some big repercussions for those who legislate hate. For that matter, concert tours should bypass the state and big conventions should stay away, too.

But let me point out, I’ve been saying this since Arizona first legalized discrimination with its heinous “papers, please” law. And while a few artists decided to boycott Arizona then, not enough cared or paid attention. I said we needed to “nip this crap in the bud” four years ago, and did you people listen? No, you didn’t. And look where we are today.

We let Arizona come for the immigrants and now they’ve come for the gays. You think these people are going to stop legislating their cultural beliefs? How do you people think the Taliban got started? That’s where this is headed. First it was the immigrants and hey, they’re an easy target. Then it was the gays, under the guise of “religious freedom.” Who’s next: women? Muslims? Atheists?

Until the state of Arizona feels some actual repercussions for its actions, it will keep legislating hate.

You gonna endorse that, Miley Cyrus? Cher? Billy Joel? James Taylor?


Filed under boycotts, GLBT, immigration, marriage

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.


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!


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.


Filed under Olympic Games