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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

Olympic glory + triumphalism « Previous | |Next »
August 4, 2012

Australia is doing rather badly in the London 2012 Olympics and the criticism of the performance in the media intensifies. There is not enough success to allow for triumphalism about the heroes and rubbing defeat in the face of Australia's national villains. Or ruthlessly trample them into the ground.

Australia's heroes should ensure that Australia is one of the top nations rather than slowly sinking down the medal ladder. Maybe the fusion between phony nationalism and sport can be disconnected from the crisis of national identity due to Australians no longer feeling united as a nation.


The Olympics have become an over-hyped carnival of advertising (by corporations who make people fat and sick), brand police, broadcast rights restrictions and a giant bureaucracy. Given the corporatisation of the games, are the modern Olympics akin to the religious rituals of old that created a community, fostered a loyalty and love of that community, and expressed the spirit of the nation?

The Olympic organizers repeatedly make the point that the Games wouldn't exist without corporate dollars yet these cover about about 50% of the cost of the games. The state funds the rest of the spectacle and the public have to wear the cost of disrupted lives and the post-Olympic's stranded stadiums that are unused and become urban ruins.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 11:54 PM | | Comments (7)


Many in the media are saying that second best is not good enough. Gold is required not silver. Some of the athletes and their coaching staff have declared the winning of anything but gold a failure. They've made winning gold the benchmark. So silver represents failure.

The Australian Olympic Committee set a bench mark of Australia being in the top five. Australia is currently ranked 24th with one gold medal.

The media narrative is one of Australia under performing, even silver is a big achievement for the athletes.

broadcast right restrictions means that most of the media can't run a nanosecond of vision (video) from the events

There is no remotely rational reason why Australia should aspire to be one of the top 5 Olympic medal-winners, or even in the top 25. The transparently self-serving campaigns waged for years by the likes of Coates and Gosper are no different in principle from any other profitable commercial undertaking trying to get government subsidies, and they deserve the same response.

The country that consistently wins the most medals is the USA. It's also one of the very few countries in which there is NO state assistance for Olympic athletes. This is one issue where I stand shoulder to shoulder in solidarity with small government conservatives. People who want to play sport for a living should make their own way, not put their hand out to government. If nobody cares enough about them to contribute voluntarily, they'll just have to make their living dong something else. Investing some kind of national sentiment in the performance of a handful of extremely unusual individuals is childish.

It will be interesting to see whether the likes of Alan Jones and Andrew Bolt are true to their self-professed principles. I suspect they will line up with Gosper and Coates to demand that more public money be thrown at elite athletes, because populism will trump principle every time. Besides, it's something else to blame on Gillard. Vote (1) Abbott for more gold medals!!

Winning Gold represents a big dollar advertising contract with the big players like Telstra, Toyota, Macas and the rest. The athletes see their efforts as a dollar value. That is their right to do that.

This thread is a beaut companion for the later one on electricity.
Some comments emphasise Gary's point without actually been fully aware of that.