Yeah, I know. I”ve not said much about The Olympics.

Truth to tell, it really hasn’t managed to capture my interest this time around. Then again, there are very few spots that do, anymore. No, it’s not that I’ve turned into a couch potato, or that I’ve turned in my supply of testosterone, there’s something deeper going on here that I’m going to try to describe to you.

Yes, I was a baseball fan at one time, prior to the strikes, the doping,  and so on. Big turn-off, frankly.

Basketball, as I wrote a few years ago, has lost it’s edge for me 20 years gone, now. I at one time followed the Boston Celtics… every time they played…. for years during their repeated championship runs in the 90s. Larry Bird, Danny Ainge, Robert Parish, the whole crew. That whole scene has changed for the worse I think. So much of it comes down to cash, anymore. Who’s got it, who wants it bad enough, who is cheating to get it. Who’s stabbing what owner in the back, what owner is playing his players for saps, etc. And of course the player’s unions. It’s more about ‘bling’, in the NBA, and showing off, than about teamwork. Bling takes cash, and there seems no shortage of it in the NBA, at least form the players’ end. From the fan’s end there seems precious little after you get done paying for the tickets and the concessions.

I make no bones about my following the Bills through the 90’s, and right up to today, though frankly even that has lost some of the edge it used to have now that they’re a mid-pack team, and that they’re being threatened with a move off to Toronto when Ralph Wilson passes on. God Bless Ralph, I gotta give the man credit, he’s trying to keep them in Buffalo. But I wonder how successful he’ll be at it, and I wonder if he doesn’t as well. As with so many other things it comes down to money. I’ll be at the tube, or at the game, (When I can afford it) but I can’t help feeling that something’s being lost, and not just for my team.

I’ve written here and elsewhere several times over the years the lobbying the doping, the cheating, etc, etc, in all of these sports anymore, and on every level, is nothing more than reflection of the society that we are in.  There is something about the way our society has gone the last couple of years … mmmmm say the last 40 or so, that has changed the nature of the sports that reflect it. I am not at all convinced that it is for the better.

There was a time in this country and indeed in the world when the sports we played were supposed to hold high the most precious ideals of our respective societies.  Fairplay, honesty, and more.  The sports world was just about the only place left where your own future rested totally on your talent and your willingness to use those talents and improve them over time.  Of course, and more importantly, your team’s future tended to ride on those talents as well.

Most certainly, there are talented people in the major leagues today.  How much of that talent, how much of that physical ability, comes out of the needles? Well, frankly, nobody knows. Admittedly the leagues have moved to prevent, as they can, this kind of abuse, but the bottom line is that in any league that you care to name these days, league rules notwithstanding, we have no bloody idea how much of it goes on.  That lack of understanding is perhaps more damaging than the actual incidence of it.  The only thing we do know is if someone is a team uniform in the major leagues these days if football basketball baseball what have you, the chances are pretty good that they’re using something to improve their performance.  The chances are also pretty good, that they’re making more for playing this game manual make in the next two months.

It’s true there’s always been such people attached to professional sports, but not all of them, and certainly not so flagrantly as we see today.

OK, Maybe, just maybe, I’m judging the entire world of sport by means of what I see here in the major leagues of the United States and some other Western countries.  So, maybe that’s unfair of me.  But did I just see the other day where there was some serious question about how old some of the gymnast girls were on the Chinese team?  Did I just see somebody on the Czechoslovakian shooting squad get disqualified because he didn’t pass the blood test? Haven’t we seen exactly this kind of behavior from the former Soviet Union as a matter of routine?

There was a time before perhaps any of us were born, when this kind of cheating was not a concern.  While I will grant that there is a lot to the notion that this whole thing is a function of the technological society that we live in, I think the larger issue is not what we gained in terms of technology but what we are missing; honor, honesty, integrity, and the sportsman’s attitude of old.

That attitude, I think, that holding high of ideals, is what made sport special, and magical.  It’s true, that the various leagues are putting clamps on performance enhancement drugs, but I remember a time when such rules were not necessary.  I’m old enough to remember a time when athletes weren’t struggling to get around the rules, but reveled in them.  The same thing applies to the Olympics, with the added understanding that the athletes aren’t the only ones involved these days, but rather in most cases the government’s are encouraging’ a little advantage’ for geo-political reasons of their own.

And speaking of political reasons for performance at the Olympic Games, shall we speak of the political gains for the Communists in China?  Economic experts tell us that China is in the process of imploding on itself economically speaking.  Being a command economy, is making their situation far worse than it might have been otherwise.  From what we’re seeing on the outside, and from the reports I’ve heard from inside the last year or two, China is a precise example of what is wrong communistic society. Yet we are going to give a moment in the sun to the magnificent bastards who run the place.   We will pay homage to them for putting on a good show.  As Billy Beck observed last week, there is an undercurrent here that cannot be denied. And he’s right.

My fascination has become very morbid. It’s uncanny to watch something so technically advanced and which my professional estimation is compelled to admire in cold terms, and all the while realizing where it comes from.  My conclusion, which was born the first time I saw it: “If I had the productivity of over a billion people at my summary disposal, I could do that, too.”

I can’t help but wonder as I watched the headlines pouring in from Beijing how genuine some of the victories were seeing reported, are.  I admit it; the kind of non-sportsmanlike behavior that I have seen both in professional sports and an amateur sports including the Olympics over the past 30 years has jaded my point of view.  It’s taken some of the magic away for me. when added to the political gamesmanship being played by the Chinese government in all of this, and the undercurrents of slavery of the Chinese people to the government, the whole thing is just flat-out unpalatable to me.

Admittedly, part of me is pleased to see the reports that we’ve done reasonably well at the Olympic games this year.  I am pleased to see the inglorious grunge from Iran was loudly booed when they showed up.  there is that small justice and least. I’m sure that people from the world over are having the time of their lives, times they will tell their grandkids about someday.

So congratulations, athletes.  Congratulations medal winners.  Congratulations Michael Phelps for wining  your eighth gold medal in a row. There’s no denying it; there is a lot in the way of the positive that has come out of these games.

In the end, however, the negatives I mention here, very nearly overcome all the positive that comes out of it. Sport used to be, along with all the rest, a celebration of higher ideals. These days, it is nearly anything but that, in majority.  That factor, for me at least, makes watching the whole thing on TV, or even following it too closely. unendurable.

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