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Brock: Don't blame it on Rio

Like most Americans, I love rooting for the underdog and relish a David-over-Goliath type of victory story. Growing up, watching the Olympics provided the perfect venue as our poor, young undersized amateur athletes battled the older, stronger pr...

Harvey Brock

Like most Americans, I love rooting for the underdog and relish a David-over-Goliath type of victory story.
Growing up, watching the Olympics provided the perfect venue as our poor, young undersized amateur athletes battled the older, stronger professional athletes from the Communist countries.
I was taught like all American school kids that Communism was the ultimate evil, so naturally athletes from the Soviet Union and their allies were the enemy.
Things have changed as the Cold War came to an end and, ironically, America’s Olympic team is made of largely professional athletes who train full time to compete in their sports, while other nation’s athletes now appear more amateurish.
Good old-fashioned capitalism brought down the Iron Curtain and, as it crumbled, me and other Americans found that our athletes and regular folks and those from the other side of the Iron Curtain had more in common than we were led to believe.
Athletes from both sides loved to compete and all worked really hard and seemed to understand the Olympic Creed: “The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.”
You would think that realization would make the Olympics more popular and more fun to watch, but for me that is just not the case, as I found myself watching less and less every four years.
While I still love to watch the actual competition, the countless hours of analysis and focus on nation medal counts has diminished my interest in the games.
I could still spend hours watching the actual contests but the way coverage is spoon fed to America, for me, turns the games into a reality TV series that has become difficult to watch.
I don’t know which has been more embarrassing, our four American swimmers celebratory vandalism or the huge share of coverage the NBC network has felt compelled to provide?
Ironically, good old American capitalism - that for the most ended Communism in the world - has turned the games into a made-for-TV event that knows no equal.
Millions of dollars have been spent by American companies constantly showcasing our nation’s athletes to improve their brands, and that has become tiresome.
I have spent less time this summer watching than previous Olympics.
Don’t blame it on Rio, but the last two weeks I have spent my evenings on my deck watching amazing North Dakota sunsets and seldom in front of the TV watching the games.
Brock is the publisher of The Press. Email him at hbrock@thedickinsonpress.com and call him at 701-456-1205.

 

Related Topics: OLYMPICS
Opinion by Harvey Brock
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