The Olympics And Nationalism… Plus Doug Stanhope
There’s a lot of hoopla and hullabaloo over the politicization of the Olympics, including the fact that it’s held in a country that is horrendously restrictive of social freedoms.
But there’s another aspect that’s largely ignored. There is a certain nationalism that follows the Olympics, which is wholly unjustified. As Americans, we are expected to celebrate the accomplishments of American athletes as if they are our own– as if their accomplishments bring glory to America rather than to the athletes themselves. The whole nation-glorification aspect reminds me more of a McCain campaign rally.
Tonight, the American women’s gymnastics team was bested by the Chinese in the team competition, while the American men’s relay swimming team absolutely destroyed a world record on the way to their own gold medal in that competition. Should I feel pride, as an American, that our men’s swimming team did so well? Should I feel shame, as an American, that our gymnastics team was beaten by the athletes of a nation whose government is deplorable on a level that we Americans are nearly unable to comprehend?
No. All of this faux-nationalistic-pride is bullshit. I don’t share in any of the wins, nor in any of the defeats, of the American Olympic athletes. I celebrate those Americans who have excelled in these Games, just as I also celebrate those non-Americans who have excelled in these games.
The Olympics is a competition that pits the best of the best, from around the world, in feats that the rest of us can simply ogle as if they’re super-human. We should celebrate the athletes that medal in these games, whether they’re American, Chinese, Russian, Kenyan, Indian, Chilean, or from any other nation in the world. This is a competition of the best of the best, and we should be celebrating the best, not some faux nationalism of athletes who we have no connection with outside of an arbitrary accident of sharing borders.
Celebrate those Americans and non-Americans who medal at the games, but understand that their accomplishments are not your accomplishments. As Doug Stanhope said:
You didn’t medal anywhere. Why should you care if some American who you have never met– and will never meet– beats some foreign athlete who you will never meet?