Monthly Archives: February 2014

From our archives: What is behind the Olympics figure skating furor?

By DAVID WALSH

wsws.org (Feb. 19, 2002 ) – THE most striking aspect of the furor over the Olympics pairs figure skating medal is the disparity between the intrinsic significance of the incident that sparked the flap and the media/political uproar it provoked. The affair has shed light on two interrelated phenomena: the degraded state of the Olympics and the poisoned state of international political relations.

The sports story is clear enough. On February 11, by a 5-4 decision, judges awarded the gold medal in the pairs figure skating competition to Russians Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze, and the silver to Canadians Jamie Salé and David Pelletier. Continue reading

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Sochi 2014: Commercialization of sport

Ads or AthletesOlympic action accounted for just 24.4 per cent of NBC’s primetime and late-Night broadcasts on Tuesday, February 11, according to a study by The Wall Street Journal, less than breaks in the Olympic action (26.8 per cent ) and almost 22 minutes less than commercials (per cent ). A similar Journal analysis from 2010 found that Olympic action made up 25.5 per cent of a Vancouver Games broadcast. “But NBC pays billions of dollars for Olympic broadcast rights because of what happens between the Games: commercials. In fact, some of the most prominent advertisements were for NBC…”

 

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Filed under Olympics - Sochi

Olympics or not, capital-centred sport for Russia’s sports managers

Campus of the Olympic University in Sochi | © RIA Novosti. Mikhail Mokrushin

Campus of the Olympic University in Sochi | © RIA Novosti. Mikhail Mokrushin

SOCHI, February 20 (Alexey Eremenko, RIA Novosti) – THE 15-story glass tower that houses the Olympic University in Sochi has the eerie vibe of a high-budget pandemic thriller: immaculately clean and completely deserted.

Normal life should resume when students return from the Olympic venues where they are interning. But their numbers will still average about two people per floor. Continue reading

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Harsh criticism of big power ‘reforms’ in cricket

By Søren Bang*

Photo | TGIGreeny/Flickr

Photo | TGIGreeny/Flickr

(Feb. 14) – THE decision by the governing body of cricket, the International Cricket Council (ICC) to give the ‘Big Three’ of cricket, India, England and Australia, a dominant position in the organisation is met by criticism from the sport’s stakeholders to Transparency International. Continue reading

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Sochi 2014: Respect for one’s opponent in sport (2)

Mike Babcock’s rant: “And the other thing that happens for the NHL player, and probably for you in the media, is the respect you have for the opposition.” Welcome to the G-20 Winter Games and the Harper agenda for a “new patriotism.” | TONY SEED*

Revised on February 23, 2014

juegos-olimpicos-de-Invierno-2014CANADIANS are passionate about their hockey and many other sports. Of course Canadians are rooting for their team and their athletes.

But what is taking place at the Sochi Winter Olympics is something quite different. A salient feature of the reporting and broadcasting of the hockey competition is that it is characterized by strident themes of great nation superiority and the domination by two countries, Canada and the USA. The principle that relations in sport be based on the relations of equality of nations, big and small or the principle that every nation is as equally as important as the next nation means nothing to these big nation Anglo-American chauvinists, let alone the principle of friendship between peoples and their athletes. Continue reading

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Sochi 2014: Norway, Slovenia lead medal count – in proportion

Medal count per capita shows a dramatically different result than the gold medal count being slavered over by the chauvinist media (as of February 18 at 1 p.m.):

Rank Country Medals Population Population
per Medal
1 Norway 18 5,005,700 278,094
2 Slovenia 6 2,057,540 342,923
3 Latvia 3 2,070,371 690,123
4 Netherlands 20 16,731,770 836,588
5 Austria 9 8,452,835 939,203
6 Switzerland 8 7,870,100 983,762
7 Sweden 9 9,490,683 1,054,520
8 Belarus 6 9,461,400 1,576,900
9 Czech Republic 6 10,504,203 1,750,700
10 Canada 16 34,771,400 2,173,212
11 Finland 2 5,407,040 2,703,520
12 Croatia 1 4,290,612 4,290,612
13 Slovakia 1 5,445,324 5,445,324
14 Germany 15 81,831,000 5,455,400
15 Russian Fed. 19 143,500,000 7,552,631
16 Australia 3 22,880,619 7,626,873
17 France 8 65,350,000 8,168,750
18 Poland 4 38,501,000 9,625,250
19 Italy 6 60,776,531 10,129,421
20 South Korea 4 48,580,000 12,145,000
21 United States 19 313,382,000 16,493,789
22 Kazakhstan 1 16,718,000 16,718,000
23 Japan 6 127,650,000 21,275,000
24 Great Britain 2 62,262,000 31,131,000
25 Ukraine 1 45,644,419 45,644,419
26 China 6 1,347,350,000 224,558,333

Medal count per GDP also shows a dramatically different result than the medal count being featured by the media: Continue reading

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Filed under Olympics - Sochi

Sochi 2014: Respect for one’s opponent in sport (1)

Sochi thumbnailWhat is the real match, the real contest here? Is the Olympic spirit manifested in Sochi or is it something relegated to the distant past? The whole pragmatic, unprincipled “winning is everything” approach embodied by the “Own the Podium” program of the Harper government and the corporate monopoly sponsors of the Canadian Olympic Committee is incompatible with the high ideals of sport and the modern spirit of friendship and mutual respect between peoples and their athletes. These ideals are manifested in some of the most indelible Olympic memories that have nothing to do with medals and victories. One of those moments happened a few days ago when a Swiss gold medalist waited at the finish line of a cross-country ski race for 28 minutes to shake hands with the skier from Peru who came in last, as pictured below. 

Respect for one’s opponent in competition is a well-known norm and one of the high ideals of sportsmanship. This human-cntred ethos has been assaulted from all sides by commercialized, professional sport, with its basis in the fetish of capitalist competition. The big sports monopolies, such as Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE), stage the arena to promote blind, mind-numbing support for the “home team” as “our team.”

LA Galaxy David Beckham is covered in streamers handed out by management as he prepares to take a corner kick against Toronto FC during the first half of their quarter-final CONCACAF Champions League soccer match at the Rogers Centre in Toronto on March 7, 2012

LA Galaxy David Beckham is covered in streamers handed out by management as he prepares to take a corner kick against Toronto FC during the first half of their quarter-final CONCACAF Champions League soccer match at the Rogers Centre in Toronto on March 7, 2012

Fans at the Air Canada Centre are organized to disrupt opposing players when they take foul shots, or incited to boo basketball or hockey players who have been either traded away by MLSE or signed with another franchise. The sports media sets the table with a “debate” as to why the athlete should be vilified. This hooligan behaviour is astounding. Continue reading

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