The Olympics this year have me feeling really conflicted. I see images like the one below and the first thing I feel is pride. Pride in my country and all it’s citizens. Proud of the way everyone can come together for something. But then that thought alone disappoints me. THIS is how we all ban together? Not over social justice issues like food sustainability or housing. Not over issues of sex or race; when access to safe, legal abortion is declining or when there continues to be a gross double standard when it comes to ‘justice’ in North America for PoC (I’m thinking of Trayvon Martin, more recently Jordan Davis, even Sammy Yatim here in Toronto. The number of people still detained on SECURITY CERTIFICATES here in Ontario, Mi’kmaq warriors arrested for peaceful protest being bankrupted to silence their voices, STEUBENVILLE, this list could go on and on).
‘Well can I support those things by growing a beard and drinking at 7:30 in the morning?’ (Nothing says patriotism like focusing on physical representations of masculinity and romanticizing alcoholism!)
FUCK I’m disappointed. Every status on my social media threads today is about the Olympics. I feel like first of all, it’s very dangerous to idolize and praise all of our athletes when we don’t know them personally. We are quick to look at them as the very best athletes in the world, but we should take care to remember that they are human, like all of us, and capable of making mistakes and causing serious, long lasting damage. (Aaron Sanchez, Oscar Pistorius for example).
Additionally, it’s no secret that the richest countries do best at the games as they have the money to train their athletes. Canada sent over 200 athletes to the Olympics and the Canadian Olympic Committee said in December their budget for Sochi’s athletes was estimated at $37 million. Is it really so inconceivable to think they would receive 20 medals? Versus a country like Jamaica who for example had to fund their bobsleigh team through a kickstarter fund. Or Venezuela’s ONE competing athlete. As the games are not yet concluded for 2014, take a look at the stats from the 2012 Olympic games in London for a comparison of money invested vs. medals earned. And this doesn’t even take into account children and youth in ‘developed’ countries like Canada, with it’s $37 million budget, who never had the slightest opportunity to compete. Couldn’t afford even a pair of skates, let alone the overwhelming cost of even participating in sports like hockey, or curling, or skiing, let alone competing.
This doesn’t account for advantages based on race or gender either. It’s incredibly discouraging to know that some members of team Canada came to be involved with their designated events less than 5 years ago, something of a chance encounter when their other endeavors didn’t pan out for them. And the more life I live the more I feel confident that those opportunities were only presented to those I’m speaking of because of their individual social locations, having much less to do with their skill in a sport they’d never attempted before, or their drive and passion. Then you have incredible athletes like Surya Bonaly, who defied convention when she became the first woman ever to complete a backflip during figure skating competition. The move was made illegal, stating she must land on one foot, not two. When Surya returned to compete and completed a back flip landing on just one foot, she was then disqualified AGAIN.
It is important to mention the human rights violations happening in Sochi RIGHT NOW. It should go without mentioning, especially after the outpouring of support from individual athletes and public figures and entire countries a like, but as soon as events started any talk about discrimination of the LGTBQ2 community disappeared from my news feeds, and, it feels like, our collective consciousness.
And the Ukraine. And Russia’s ties to the atrocities happening there. I don’t think I need to elaborate. WHAT IS GOING ON IN THE WORLD that hockey is more important than actual human lives and rights?
The games seem to me to be symbolic of much of what is problematic with our society as a whole. I am still processing my thoughts about all of this, so I hope my rantings are clear and make sense outside of my own mind. I just feel very uncomfortable with this entire situation.