Monday, August 6, 2012
Our Australian Olympic team has not been getting as many gold medals as some people had hoped, and there have been tears and recriminations over it. One of the swimmers cried after not winning gold, and said she felt she'd let people down. Others had cases of emotional meltdown, and back in the Australian press some commentators are saying "Why is this? It's not right!" and blaming our lifestyle for it. I'm thinking, hey, can we have a sobriety check here? Right, so I'm not an athlete. I didn't even represent the high school I went to. But even getting to the Olympics is quite a formidable thing. In all races, someone finishes last, never mind only getting silver or bronze. What would happen if anyone who didn't expect to win didn't take part at all? What sort of games would it be? A good number of entrants is needed to make the event happen at all. So how about we remember it needs all the field to make it worth watching or competing; and why would someone feel win or you're nothing? Be fair. There is the fact of being 'good sport', of course. Don't be resentful about not coming first. ( I had to get used to that, believe me). Then there's the plain fact, no-one should assume they have to win or be damned. And Australia, with a small population, shouldn't feel that we're all failures just because we don't win everything. Sport ceases to be sport if it imposes that sort of pressure on people, and the whole reason for reviving the Olympic Games as Pierre de Coubittan did in 1896 was to have a goodwill games, not a proxy war. I can't speak as an athlete because I've never spent the years of training and commitment it takes to get to an international event. I know that. But the athletes should not think I'm passing judgement on them, even the last placegetter did well even to get to the games. And no-one should feel like a failure because having even got to the games, they didn't win gold.