Miscellaneous Olympic rants

Today's rants are about things related to the Vancouver Olympics.

Let's start with the ice hockey teams. I am somewhat of an ice hockey fan, and have heard various things, ranging from well-grounded facts to wild speculation, about who will be on the Canadian team. But one thing I've noticed is that every one of the people mentioned have no business competing in the Olympics: they are all professionals, paid to play hockey, not amateurs. And nobody seems to even notice.

And then there are some of the things the organizing committee has done. (Or, at least, has been reported as having done, since I haven't checked into these myself. And, actually, that I find these so plausible I haven't even felt the need to check them out says worlds about how far the Olympics have fallen.)

For example, they've abused trademark law, trademarking things like "games" and "2010". Then, when some company called them on it by advertising some line of products with language like "a major sporting event occurring in a western Canadian city between 2009 and 2011" (I don't recall the exact wording), they got all "we're so disappointed". Well, yes, abusers usually do get disappointed when called on their abuse. Bully for the company in question for pointing up the pointlessness and abusiveness of those trademarks.

Not to mention the abuse the Games have become to begin with. As with the ice hockey teams, the Olympics no longer seem to have much to do with loving the sport (look up the etymology of `amateur') and far more to do with being able to make money off it.

For example, VANOC has apparently bought up all public ad space in Vancouver during the Games. This might be tolerable, if they then used it to give us some relief from the advertising barrage we usually get inflicted on us. But, no, even in a case where some new billboards got local residents angry, VANOC bought advertising rights and then put up ads. They even went so far as to cite policy (as if that excuses anything) as compelling them to do so, rather than leaving the ad space blank; they apparently are not only venal and abusive, they're unimaginative and interested in trying to suck money out of people regardless of the non-monetary costs of doing so. I chose venal here with care, meaning, basically, corruptible or corrupted by money. In this case, I don't mean that they can be bought off to ignore what they're tasked with (that may or may not be so; I have no particular evidence either way), but rather that their task is inherently corrupted by money from the get-go. If the Olympics were what they were supposed to be, there wouldn't be stupid abusive trademark registrations. There wouldn't be "official" this and that of the Games. There wouldn't be professionals competing. There wouldn't be ads saturating the entire country—not only would there not be enough money at hand to pay for such ads, there would be no desire to place them. The `right' to host the Games would not be a plum cities and countries compete for. There wouldn't be companies advertising "buy this and we'll donate <amount> to our athletes" because there wouldn't be any organization to donate to. There wouldn't be national teams, because the country of origin of an athlete would be irrelevant, it being ability at the sport that matters.

It would be a bunch of amateurs, of those who engage in sports for the love of the sports, getting together to enjoy their sports and honour those who do best, rather than a chance for countries to score political points, for spectators to find out who can convince someone else to pay for the best trainers and support staff, and for various companies to compete for the `right' to wring every dollar they can out of everyone in the vicinity.