The Family (Or most of them)

The Family (Or most of them)
The Family

April 8, 2008

The Neener Neener News: The Tough and The Fluff


So, I've been trying to get my simple sportswriter-type head around this whole kerfuffle over demonstrations and protests against the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing and calls for a boycott of the Games in China.

The gist is, protesters have been using China's hosting of the Games as a worldwide stage to draw attention to the regime's treatment of Tibet and all of the unrest and civil disobience going on there.

The Dalai Lama's right in the thick of things. China's trying to clamp down on all the unrest just a few months before the Games in Beijing, and it's a hugely embarrassing time.

And this week, protesters are making worldwide headlines as they try to make life difficult in London and in Paris and, on Wednesday, in San Francisco, during the ceremonial torch-running exercise that's a part of all Olympic Games.

The International Olympic Committee, itself a den of high political power and money-grubbers beyond any bounds that could be imagined, is trying to stay on the high road, threatening to stop the torch-running to preserve the integrity of the Games.

Generally, I hate the mixture of politics with sports. Sports SHOULD be a pure thing just in and of itself, far above all the rest of the crapola.

But I also hated the mixture of drugs with sports and money with sports, and bad morals with sports, and that hasn't stopped any of the bad stuff from happening.

Sports, now, is part of the ugly world landscape, not separate at all.

So faced with all of this, I've been trying to figure out where I stand on an Olympics hosted by a repressive, yet dominant, society.

And my conclusion is that if a Hitler-led Germany could sponsor an Olympics, and a Bush-led U.S. could host a Games, why can't China?

The point is, the U.S. and most of the so-called Free World boycotted the 1980 Games in Moscow while the Wall was up. The East Bloc boycotted the L.A. Olympics in 1984.

Politics, sadly, has always been a part of the Olympic movement. Both of those Games were severely diminished because it wasn't the entire world coming together.

Everyone knows China is a repressive regime. But where are almost all of the products we use nowadays made? In China.

We criticize them for their policies, but then we buy everything we own from them. It's all hypocrisy intertwined.

And it infests virtually every government and belief system we have, from Communism to Democracy.

We buy everything we own from China because they sell us those things cheaper, because they pay their workers diddly squat, at least comparatively speaking.

We talk out of both sides of our mouths.

We whine about the high cost of things and the high cost of us producing our own products because of high wages.

But then we also whine when all of our people lose their jobs because their wages are too high and they're laid off and their jobs are exported to other places with cheap labour.

Free trade has made unemployment rampant in the so-called progressive world because places like China and India have figured out how to give us what we want at a lower cost to us.

So our companies out-source to those places to save money...And to improve their own bottom lines.

Meanwhile, the cheaper costs are passed on to us, and we don't even think about arguing. We don't care where the products come from, as long as they're cheap.

We're blindly pacified.

We don't think about the overall cost to us in unemployment or a lost society. And we watch, from afar -- if we watch at all -- as those same countries that give us cheap products treat their citizens cheaply.

I could go on and on.

But I think a good term for what's happening is intertwined hypocrisy. And I think it's at play here in this Olympic torch saga and in the Olympic Games themselves, and the fact they're being held in China.

The Olympics slogan, supposedly its ideal, is Higher, Faster, Stronger.

And the Chinese have been issuing press releases decrying the demonstrations and protests against their Games, talking about how they're damaging the Olympic spirit.

Well, China is a regime that keeps its citizens Lower, Slower and Weaker. And the IOC and the world knew this when it granted them the 2008 Summer Games.

China is the biggest, most diverse country on the planet. It is economically involved, intimately, with the world. It's a huge power that the rest of the world isn't scorning, but is embracing.

So why wouldn't it also embrace China as a worthwhile host of the Olympic Games?

The protesters, while obviously acting against a bad thing, are just as much opportunists as anyone else. They know the pictures and stories they're generating all this week will be front-page news. It's all part of the game.

The game is much more than the 100-metre sprints or any other event that will actually take place in Beijing this summer. But all those events have already been tarnished by the whole steroids scandal.

I just wish sports was what it was to me as a kid. Unfortunately, it never will be again.

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And now for some real news, from an email I received at work this week...

Riviera Nayarit, Mexico - The iconic sweethearts of American football, the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders (DCC), have returned to Riviera Nayarit for a breathtaking whirlwind tour and photo shoot from April 3rd to April 9th.

The amazing beauty of Riviera Nayarit is the ideal setting for the 25 members of the DCC to return for a second time for their 2009 Swimsuit Calendar. A press event took place on April 4th to showcase the DCC, which also included a live performance.

The squad was also able to squeeze a little rest and recreation during their time in Riviera Nayarit. They enjoyed the region’s many attractions including authentic Mexican cuisine and fun adventure/eco tours.


A few highlights of their visit included: strolling the tranquil beaches of Rincon de Guayabitos; taking a motorboat through La Tovara National Park near San Blas to see the birds, crocodiles and turtles in this mangrove sanctuary; and relaxing in exclusive Punta Mita.

14 comments:

  1. I think you are doing a great job with getting your head around such a complicated issue. China is a puzzle rapped up in an enigma.

    However the Dalai Lama has tried to stop physical and violent protests, and encouraged peaceful protests.

    There were protests throughout the Sydney 2000 games due to the interesting relationship between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians.

    “In the name of all the competitors I promise that we shall take part in these Olympic Games, respecting and abiding by the rules which govern them, committing ourselves to a sport without doping and without drugs, in the true spirit of sportsmanship, for the glory of sport and the honour of our teams.“

    It’s a nice ideal. One swimmer will be banned from attending the Olympics due to bashing someone. However the rest of the swimming team will be competing in “interesting” swimwear that might be performance enhancing. I think we need to go back to the budgie-smugglers.

    Two last things from a non-sport-mad Aussie bloke: The Olympics is the time when everyone in the nation becomes an instant expert on every sport from hurling to the hurdles. Aussie Aussie Aussie Oi Oi Oi.

    Cheers,
    Andrew

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  2. I'm afraid there's no such thing as a "pure" anything. Not anymore. Everything is colored by politics or money.

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  3. One Indian sportsman refused to carry the torch protesting against China. However, it has not spread and better sense has prevailed upon most.

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  4. You are right about the hypocrisy..we need to either stop buying crap from China or Shut Up.
    The IOC scoundrels (Pimps) should be incarcerated and forced to return all of the money that they 'siphon' from the Athletes.


    The focus should just be on the ahtlete and their event. Some Gazillionaire like Branson needs to start up a NEW version of the Olympics that ignores the competitor's country.

    There would be cash prizes..they can throw in medals if they like, but nothing motivates like money.

    I don't care how much advertising and sponsorship there is..the competitors can be smothered in logos like race car drivers. The main thing is that the event is between individuals and not a thinly veiled pissing match between countries...it can be an economic pissing match between companies who would waste billions advertising to billions of viewers..
    wait a second, that's what it is now!

    Perhaps they could start with the Decatholon or Beer Chugging.

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  5. Will you and Donn be participating in the nude mud wrestling event?

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  6. So do you have a list of countries I should boycott when I start looking at the country of origin label of every product I purchase?

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  7. Andrew:

    Yeah, I'm lookin' forward to seein' those gorgeous Aussie women swimmers in Beijing, in those new swim suits...

    Every Olympics has a protest about something. And that's one of the things, I think, that diminishes their effectiveness.

    The plight of Australia's aborigines, of Canada's aboriginals, of Tibetans...it's all terrible.

    But there is so much more wrong than all that going on in Africa, in America, everywhere else...

    What about all that, and those people have no worldwide stage like this.

    It just seems to me to lower the value of what these groups are fighting for in some way, that they and their supporters seem as PR-savvy as governments with these protests of theirs.

    Sigh...

    Menchie:

    Sadly, I think you're right. There is no purity any more, except in the hearts and eyes of kids who know nothing of any of this.

    Gautami:

    I'd respect any individual athlete or torch-bearer who decided not to carry the torch because of their own beliefs about Tibet and China.

    My big whine is about huge groups deciding to boycott the Games. It just seems hypocritical.

    The single thing I'd most admire, that would most make me stand up and take notice, is to see an athlete who's been training for four years to go to Beijing and qualified to compete there...decide not to because they wanted to take a stand.

    Now THAT'S sacrifice for a cause.

    Donn:

    I'd be inclined to agree that it should all be individual athletes competing, not identified with any country...

    Except because of the whole doping scandal, I don't know that they're any more real than Paris Hilton.

    Personally, I like the beer chugging event. You and I, in our prime, would have been world record-setters for sure.

    MJ:

    We're trying to qualify, but we understand there are a few well-oiled females out on the Left Coast who are also trying to qualify.

    See you in the ring, Baby!

    Anna:

    Well, no. Hell, if we've got this Free Trade thing going, and if China can produce and market all these things we want, then why boycott?

    Where else are we going to get this stuff? And where else are we going to get it at that price?

    Or are you just pullin' my chain...

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  8. I was being totally serious. I'm not informed enough to know which countries are involved in which injustices. And I'm too lazy to do the lengthy research. So if you have a list, I'd love to see it. Once I see which offences they're guilty of, I can decide which country's products I want to boycott.

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  9. The games create openings for China to the world and for the world to China, openings to learn, discover, communicate and possibilities for change, and that is at least one good thing, I hope.

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  10. Anna:

    I could not find one isolated list.

    And I'm not informed enough either to come even close to providing a list of countries that are purported to be doing bad things, specifics of what those things are and whether they have been boycotted in the past or are being boycotted now.

    The '80 Olympics in Moscow were boycotted in a U.S.-led charge because of the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan.

    (Now, of course the Americans had provided the Afghanis with all their firepower, but they don't like to admit that; and now they're leading the charge in the current occupation of Afghanistan; but I digress).

    The Eastern Bloc retaliated by boycotting the '84 Games in Los Angeles. Tit for tat.

    I invite other readers to add to this (HELLO, DONNN!), but here are a few current things that come to mind besides China, which right now is being hammered over Tibet but which also of course is constantly under criticism regarding Taiwan.

    Canada: the seal hunt; the aboriginal issue.
    U.S.: the invasion of Iraq; its treatment of prisoners at Guatanamo Bay; its refusal to accept responsibility for its environmental pollution of the planet.
    Several African countries and other nations: genocide, election irregularities, rampant human rights violations, abuse of women through many means, including genital mutilation.
    Russia: Its treatment of the Chechyn people seeking independence.
    North Korea: Human rights violations, aggressive posturing worldwide with nuclear threats.
    Denmark: its editorial cartoons making fun of Muslims, which has resulted in many boycotts.
    Saudi Arabia, Syria and some other Middle East countries: their boycotting of Israel, their alleged supply of arms to anti-Israeli forces.
    Israel: Its treatment of Palestinians and Lebanese.
    Iran: Its fundamentalism, threats of nuclear capability.
    Japan: Its refusal to stop whaling, endangering a very fragile population.
    Indonesia, Malaysia: sweat-shop workers, poor working and living conditions for their populations.

    Of course there are others, and I might have misspoken with some of the above, but those are the ones that come to my mind.

    There is actually a website http://www.boycottwatch.org/ that's all about boycotts.

    The point is, just about every country on the planet is involved in some contentious activity that someone or some group doesn't like.

    Maybe the real solution is to not have an Olympics at all. Or, as Donn has suggested, make the Games all about the athletes and not even talk about where they came from.

    Hildegarde:

    I think that's a very good thought you have there. A very good thought. When Beijing was awarded the Games, the Chinese themselves and others talked about how maybe that's a bridge between them and the world.

    Maybe they open up and we see they're not as bad as we think they are, and maybe they see the need to open up and change their ways and stop some of these policies.

    I agree with you.

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  11. The Olympics are all about international competition. What else could that mean but politics? We pit one country against another in a highly competitive and extremely lucrative environment, and expect politics not to come into it at all. As far as I can tell, the Olympics are just an organised, mildly more friendly, war. I'm not a fan. I've previously boycotted Olympic Games purely because they go against my ideal of international cooperation and peace on Earth, but this time I'll be able to boycott because of Tibet AS WELL! Bonus.

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  12. Stace:

    'Nuff said! And well said. I just think sport, while always a competition on some level, was previously seen to be more pure and fair and devoid of issues.

    Now the lines are all blurred. And that's sad.

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  13. Thank you for the link. I'll take a look at that.

    I like Hildegarde's point. How nice to think of the silver lining! We should all do that more often.

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  14. Anna:

    I didn't find the boycottwatch site all that helpful, actually. Just more info.

    I think Hildie's got a great point too...but more importantly, can you feel the twins kicking yet?

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