The Olympics, the best in sport?
Well, the 2020 (2021) Olympic Games are right around the corner, and to be honest, they are a shell of their former shelf.
I harken back to the 1970s, when Mark Spitz set the world afire, as did gymnast Nadia Comaneci, and runner Bruce Jenner.
Wow, have times changed. Even Bruce Jenner is now Caitlyn Jenner, in a move, no one would have predicted in his glory day of 1976. Hey to each his/her/them or however the pronoun thing goes. I’m still learning all this new PC stuff.
A weed smoker, transgendered athletes who are throwing the entire concept into flux, and greedy advertisers who cannot wait to write the latest Olympic narrative have dominated today’s Tokyo Olympic headlines. The next Olympic narrative will be written – as in “who’s Games will these be?”
And, like Bruce Jenner, I hardly recognize the Olympics any longer. Sure they present well and are 24-hour made-for-TV drama unlike anything else. But for me, the commercialism of the Games, the complexities of transgendered athletes entering the picture, and the drug headlines and suspension are the topic du jour this year.
Can you say Money?
According to a story in Bloomberg.com, NBC is licking its chops at this year’s planned spectacle.
“NBCUniversal’s broadcast of the Tokyo Olympics could be its most profitable ever, even with many parts of the world still battling the coronavirus pandemic,” bloomberg.com reported.
“Jeff Shell, who leads Comcast Corp.’s NBCUniversal Entertainment division, made the prediction Monday at an investor conference. “He cited high demand for commercial slots from advertisers, along with the strength and popularity of the U.S. team,” according to Bloomberg.com.
“Depending on how ratings are, it could be our most profitable Olympics in the history of the company,” Shell said at the Credit Suisse conference. “The 17-day games are set to begin in late July,” the site reported.
In any stinking scandal, they always say follow the money and when you do, you will see plenty of peacocks on those hands.
NBC paid $775 million for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, and $1.23 billion for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, according to published reports.
So .. basically, NBC has skin in the game – enough skin to make your whole being hate the Olympics by the time it is all over. International anything makes for blah TV, eventually. Hopefully, for NBC, Simone Biles knocks it out of the park and takes home a bucket of golds. They need her and other young breakout stars to dominate these Games. They always have. America is a factory that has turned out Olympic gymnasts, swimmers, runners, jumpers, throwers, skaters, and players.
The Olympics showed its age recently when they suspended sprinter She’Carri Richardson who was sent home with a 30-day suspension after testing positive for that evil devil’s lettuce – weed.
Cannabis. Mary Jane. The Joo-Joo. Doobies. Her dream was essentially dashed by hash.
“American champion cannot run in the Olympic 100-meter race after testing positive for a chemical found in marijuana,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.
“Richardson, who won the 100 at Olympic trials in 10.86 seconds on June 19, told of her ban Friday on the Today show. She tested positive at the Olympic trials, so her result is erased. Fourth-place finisher Jenna Prandini is expected to get Richardson’s spot in the 100.”
“Richardson accepted a 30-day suspension that ends July 27, which would be in time to run in the women’s relays. USA Track and Field has not disclosed plans for the relay,” The Reporter wrote.
“After the London Olympics, international regulators relaxed the threshold for what constitutes a positive test for marijuana from 15 nanograms per milliliter to 150 ng/m. They explained the new threshold was an attempt to ensure that in-competition use is detected and that athletes not use during the days and weeks before (the) competition,” according to an article in The Hollywood Reporter.
So a young woman who has spent her life training for this moment (only to have to postpone because of the stupid pandemic) got sidelined for smoking a joint? Not only is this ridiculous, but this is also America! This is a place where you can cross a state line and get stoned to the bejesus on rec weed, or for just $100, you can fake an ailment to get the high-priced medical stuff in med-only states. The entire thinking on marijuana in this country is utterly preposterous and just know that the laws that restrict in some areas but offer freedom in other areas? Some m*therf*cker is getting sick rich off of it. I mean, sick rich.
In Richardson’s case, she issued a mea culpa. Her mother had died, she was down, depressed, and smoked some weed to improve her mood. She is not alone. Millions of people smoke weed to help with anxieties like hers, and many military veterans have found that marijuana gives them the peace they need after suffering from stress disorders.
Recently, I was in the Pacific Northwest and was amazed at to how many “pot shops” there were. Like a convenience store/gas station, there was legal weed available for purchase with identification just about every 2 miles (was asking for a FRIEND, Siri!)
So .. this inequity, this weed problem rears its ugly hand again in our nation – yet this strong young woman won’t get her shot at Olympic gold. She could have taken a myriad of other drugs and been OK with the Olympic committee. Instead, she chose to get stoned. And now she pays a huge price for her .. .” Mistake?”
The final thing that has me unsure about the future of the Olympics is the issue of transgendered athletes and competitive international play.
I won’t dig too deep into this because it is a discussion that brings out way more ugliness than I care to know. It is an important discussion, however, and one that will not go away.
As globally we continue to fight for equal rights for gays and lesbians and rightfully so, transgendered individuals should be – and are – afforded some of the same rights.
Where this gets to be a difficult issue to navigate is on the playing field and to ensure competitive balance. The question becomes, can you have competitive balance and total equality at the same time? Is one exclusive of the other?
I suppose we are about to find out. Stay tuned, as this is an issue that will get larger and more pressing as the years go by.
Thanks for reading! Leave your comments below.
A St. Louis Blues blogger, NHL podcaster, and writer, and contributor for the STL Fan Report.