Saturday, February 13, 2010

Fear and loathing in Vancouver, but there's still a bright side

One of the biggest problems with the Olympics in my mind is the way they divide people into camps. At the one end of the spectrum, there are those who get so wrapped up in nationalism that they cast a blind eye to the issues around the Games. They denounce anyone who dares to question elements of the Olympics as unpatriotic and label them as traitors and un-Canadian. At the other end are many people involved in the protest movements, who overlook all the positive aspects of the Games in favour of promoting their own narrow agendas. Both sides try to outshout the other and wind up becoming even more extreme in the process, leaving little room for rational thought and debate.

Where do I fall? Well, it should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with this site's mission statement that, in the words of Pogo creator Walt Kelly, "I'm for the extreme middle." There are massive problems associated with the Games, the IOC, VANOC and the Canadian media's coverage of the Olympics, and those issues need to be addressed, not simply swept under the rug in the name of patriotism and nationalism.

At the same time, there are many great, inspiring things about the Olympics, and many people enjoy them, There's a lot of terrific sports action to follow, and a plethora of interesting angles to cover. Ignoring all that in favour of a narrow protest is fine for some, but it's not a path I'm interested in. What's more troubling are those who go beyond peaceful protests to violent activity and vandalism; that doesn't bring any attention to the issues around the Olympics, but rather encourages more outrageous nationalism as a counterreaction. Both sides have clear problems, and that's why the Olympics aren't a black-and-white issue.

That's why I'll be looking at things from both sides and trying to deliver a nuanced perspective throughout the Games here at Sporting Madness. Posts on the issues with the Olympics will be filed under the "Fear And Loathing In Vancouver" category (a homage to the late, great Hunter S. Thompson, and a tack I think he'd approve of). Posts on positive elements of the Games will be labeled with "Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life", in homage to this brilliant bit of cinema:

There are also some parts of the Olympics that don't readily fall into either category, so those will just have regular titles. The Neutrals might approve of this, or they might not. In any case, hopefully I'll be able to present a reasonably balanced picture of what it's like to be around an Olympics. It should be an interesting ride.

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