What 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-centred ethos is under assault 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.”
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