Friday, July 27, 2012

Haiku for the week

In childhood we cared:
Sport seemed noble, inspiring.
Now, an empty show.

I got quite excited about the Olympics as a kid, and watched avidly in '72 and '76. But the enthusiasm was already waning by the time I got into my teens, and the competition in '80 and '84 was compromised by boycotts (I approved of the Americans' stand over the Russian invasion of Afghanistan and was disappointed that Britain hadn't followed suit). I haven't given it much of a thought since then. I made the effort to take more of an interest when the Games were being held in Beijing four years ago, but the atmosphere then was rather subdued by an oppressive government and an almost complete absence of overseas visitors.

And, as I observed after the last Olympics, the event has now become ridiculously bloated, overhyped, over-commercialized, raddled with nationalism - completely divorced from the original ethos of the Games. It's supposed to be about the individual pursuit of excellence; I'm not even too keen on the relay events in running, and certainly wouldn't include any team games. I'd strip the event down to the a few core sports, closer to the original ancient Greek template: basically just the athletics, and maybe swimming; no team games, no adversarial games, nothing that requires apparatus (other than the long-established throwing sports), and nothing that requires subjective scoring (diving and gymnastics, though they are fascinating to watch, are not proper competitive sports). There might be a case for some of the combat sports (the Greeks had boxing and wrestling), though I would resist them on moral grounds (trying to hurt someone shouldn't really be a sport or a form of entertainment). There might be a case for cycling (not a very complex piece of apparatus; and I can imagine the Greeks very easily might have invented it in a slightly different universe); but it is a very boring event. No, athletics and swimming would be it for me. All over in a week. If only...

The Olympics have become a colossal bore. And, if you happen to be caught in the host country, the host city, a massive inconvenience.


John said...

I for one am looking forward to 2500 hours of sport, each silly little competitive sequence of actions (some less silly than others granted) endlessly honed to perfection that we can all be proud of. And I mean it too, I'm not being derogatory in the slightest. I wish I was even slightly as fit as an athlete and as much as I envy a lean physique I get a lot more enjoyment out of watching someone play or compete than hours on hours of practice myself so yes, I'll be watching what I can including the Opening Ceremony (in 15 minutes) which promises to be as amazing as Beijing was.
Ah yes, I'm back again. I'm still busy but I'm trying to catch up at least.

Actually the real reason I'm leaving this is to let you know that there was a documentary on the Titanic iceberg on BBC4 the other day in case you missed it! It's almost like you requested it, I laughed out loud when I saw the advert. You should still be able to watch it on iPlayer but failing that I can help you download it via a torrent if you like. As for my Titanic research- it's ongoing, just need to find some time to finish it. Don't hold your breath but I did say I'd get it done.

Froog said...

God, is there really 2,500 hours of coverage? I hope you're joking about that; if you were going to watch it all, it would take you nearly every waking hour for six months!

I rather enjoyed Danny Boyle's opening panto. A bit cheesy - but then, the whole Olympic idea is a bit cheesy, and the idea (when did this start?) of having a big variety show to kick it off even more so. It had a more accessible scale, a more human feel than Zhang Yimou's sterile extravaganza four years ago.

I very much doubt if I'll be watching any of the rest of it for the next two weeks, though. Just dreading having to venture into London while it's on.

Froog said...

As chance would have it, I happened to catch that iceberg documentary (well, most of it) last, just before the Amy Winehouse documentary (BBC4 accounts for at least 50% of my viewing).

Not all that much about the Titanic, much less the individual iceberg responsible for the sinking, but a good general study of icebergs.

One thing I hadn't known before is how unstable they are in the water, tending to pitch and tilt and flop over fairly frequently. That might have been a problem for the hero of Futility who was supposed to have survived his shipwreck by hitching a ride on a berg.

Froog said...

Looking back on Friday's show, I rather wish they'd played up the panto aspect more. I would have loved to hear Sir Ken bellow gloatingly,"It's even better than Beijing, isn't it?"

Then the disgruntled Chinese contingent would have shouted back, "Oh no it isn't!"

And the whole crowd would have roared, "Oh yes it is!"

"Oh no it isn't!!"

"OH YES IT IS!!!!!!"

Froog said...

At the time of the last Olympics, I outlined a sketch for a downbeat, low-budget London opening ceremony. The Olympic cauldron was to be a giant waste bin (incinerating actual London waste; our contribution to the 'Green' agenda), lighted by a discarded cigarette - nonchalantly flicked into it by Leslie 'Dirty Den' Grantham, or some other suitably sordid B-list soap opera celeb.

I suppose having Darling Kenny as I.K. Brunel was a bit more classy.

Froog said...

I liked the fact also that we had rather more cultural and technological accomplishments to boast of than the Chinese.

The Beijing show laid a lot of emphasis on the invention of paper. After that, they were struggling a bit. Writing? Not really. Fireworks? Big deal! That earthquake detection device? Clever, but more of an art objet than a practically useful machine. The atom bomb? Come off it! Hybrid rice? OK, we'll give you that one. Er... er... PAPER??

I'm tempted to do one of my 'List of the Month' posts on the great contributions of British culture to the world: afternoon tea, fair play, gin & tonic...