Monday, August 22, 2016

The Last Olympics

The Olympic flame has been doused in Rio, and while it may be an unpopular opinion, I'd be more than okay if we kept it that way.  I know that Games have been awarded to South Korea for the winter of 2018 and Tokyo for the summer of 2020--but we should just cancel them and reconsider the way we put on the largest sports festival in the world. 

When the athletes and the media leave Brazil this week, the country will be left to deal with the huge economic and social problems that were aggravated by the cost of building venues that will see little or no use in the future.  Check out "abandoned Olympic venues" on the internet sometime to see how buildings that were promised to "provide public access for decades to come" are dilapidated and crumbling.  And Brazil was a country that couldn't afford that much unnecessary spending to begin with.  That's why fewer and fewer cities and countries are even interested in bidding on hosting Olympics anymore--it's simply not worth the cost.

The International Olympic Committee could ease this expense by returning more often to cities that have hosted already--and have the infrastructure in place--but that wouldn't allow them to line their pockets with kickbacks from crooked politicians and developers.  And that is how we end up with sites like Sochi, Russia and Rio hosting games--while Los Angeles (which would have to build just one new venue to host the summer games again) are rejected over and over again.

And the pro sports that now support the games are beginning to lose interest.  The NBA could have fielded a team of guys that sat out these Olympics that like could have beaten the Team USA that easily won the gold medal.  And the NHL has absolutely no interest in sending its pros to the South Korea games in two years.  Asia is hardly a hotbed for hockey or potential growth for fan base and sponsors--plus, the players don't want to leave in the middle of their regular season to fight jet lag for a two week tournament halfway around the world.  If you aren't going to have the best compete in your signature event, why even bother.

Let's be honest, the Olympics exist primarily as a television show.  A two-week ratings boost for whatever network is willing to grossly overpay for the broadcast rights--which don't benefit those competing--and rather feed the disgusting beast that is the International Olympic Committee.  Every sport already has its world championships that are held every year--or World Cups contested every four years.  In our modern, every-game-on-every-channel sports world, that should be more than good enough.

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