Sunday, August 17, 2008

unchain the olympics

The Olympics makes concessions to it being brave pure amateurs when it's nothing of the sort. People can't get paid but they can get sponsored. Sponsored to the tune of bulging sacks of money that cover full-time training and a comfy life besides. That, quite clearly, is getting paid. The sponsors know it, the athletes know it, the Olympic committee know it, we know it, and everyone knows that everyone knows.

Then these people spend all day every day training and eat insane diets. The regime they live under fits most definitions of self-harm and, quite arguably, torture. Yet they're not allowed to take any of a special list of performance enhancing drugs. Why the hell not?

Surely it'd be a lot more interesting if we allowed open payment and permitted all drugs. The principle of the Games is to see what extremes of sporting achievement humanity is capable of. Let's stop restraining it then, let's see what people can really do. If they want to fuck themselves up let them be properly compensated.

And let's not have any false claims that it'd be unfair on the athletes. We watch people fucking themselves all the time. Most peoples favourite bits of motor racing are the spectacular crashes. It's no different to the way we enjoy Pete Docherty's life, except that athletes would be much more deliberate, eyes-open and voluntary about it.

Sure, some people would complain, so let's have two Games, a clean one and an anything-goes one. Then watch as all the complainers slyly watch the dirty Olympics too, because they're the most passionate about seeing great sporting prowess in action. Who wouldn't want to see someone run a hundred metres in four seconds or lob a shot putt half a mile?

The dirty Olympics would have by far the bigger audience, and therefore bring a concomitant rise in advertising revenue, prestige for the host nation and all the other reasons to do the Games. Athletes get to truly excel, we get to gape at a two minute mile. It's a total win-win.

The clean Olympics would soon wither and die off, for the same reason Manchester United sell out 76,000 tickets a week yet nobody can even name a player in their reserves team.

But just cut the fucking target shooting out of the Olympics. That is not a sport.

With other target things like archery there's a tensing of the bow, but with target shooting the tensing is done unalterably and mechanically by cocking the gun. The only skill is in pointing an object in the right direction. It's operating a simple machine with no physical exercise. I can't see any reason to include target shooting that isn't a better reason to include vacuum cleaning.

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