In 1960 the Olympic Games were held in Rome and as a nine year old, I was engrossed in the small black and white screen of our Healing television as I watched our athletes competing. Some even stood on the winners’ dais to be presented with medals. We were proud of them and of our great sporting nation. Every four years it was the same – Tokyo, Mexico City, Munich and on. Back then I had no real notion of where we were on the medals table, but I became very excited when Norman May screamed ‘Gold! Gold! Gold!’ It was a given that the USA and USSR would win the most gongs, but it seemed very special that, during those Cold War years, they were sharing the same sporting fields, despite their major differences. Then it changed. At one of the games one of the big two failed to put in an an appearance in protest at the other and we, following on the US’s coattails, as we always did, gave our athletes the choice. Then, another time, we hardly featured on the medals tally board. National disaster! There was so much angst that we weren’t great anymore the athletes were made to feel ashamed. Money had to be poured in to lift standards. Money meant medals right? That, to me, didn’t seem to be in the spirit of the Games. Then came the drugs. I had gradually lost interest in the event but the final nail in the coffin for me came when the AOC started setting targets for the number of medals that had to be attained before the team could be considered successful – inevitably heaping extra pressure on our young and often vulnerable representatives. That’s a heavy weight to carry – letting the country down.
As a teacher, therefore, every four years I largely avoided the seemingly almost compulsory module on the Olympics. If I was asked by my colleagues why not, I gave my reasons.
But now, common sense and dare I say it, a little of that spirit may be returning. I doubt that ever the sports(wo)manship will ever reach the levels of the recent Invictus Games in Sydney, but a newly made decision is a start. Read all about it in the accompanying Greg Baum article. Maybe some time in the future
I’ll return to the fold.
Greg Baum’s Article = https://www.smh.com.au/sport/numbing-numbers-for-numpties-20181026-p50c7a.html