Why I Hate the Olympics

I hate the Olympics.  I hate everything about them… their show-casing of murderous authoritarian regimes, their graft and corruption, their promotion of obscure sports that generate little genuine interest, their hypocritical claim of being non-commercial and non-political, their subordination of athletic excellence to soap-opera story-telling… everything.

But soon it will be nearly impossible to escape the media-hype of the Olympics.  NBC has an enormous investment in broadcast rights they need to recoup.  Putin needs to advertise the greatness of re-hashed fascism.  And every hyper-nationalist has to obscure his regime’s abuses and claim superiority based on the defeat of a proximate foe.  Dictators, oppressors, exploiters, and scumbags of every stripe love the Olympics.  I don’t see why we should.

Unfortunately, even in the education policy world we will see folks attempt to channel some of the attention the Olympics generate toward their policy talking-points.  I say ignore them.  Even better — rather than worship at the altar of the Olympics, every time someone in the education policy world tries to harness this authoritarian and corrupt institution as part of an attention-seeking gambit, I propose that we should take a moment to sing the praises of those who advance the cause of liberty.

Sports and competition are great things.  But they are only great when they are organized, engaged-in, and voluntarily paid for by free people.  Otherwise they are just the bread and circuses of the new-age Caesars.

(Typo corrected)


11 Responses to Why I Hate the Olympics

  1. George Mitchell says:

    Growing up I was heavily invested into following the Olympics.

    It is unlikely I will view much of the upcoming events unless news of a non-athletic sort emerges. I cannot name a single star athlete.

    But I am delighted that my Niners prevailed yesterday.

  2. Matthew Ladner says:


    By this logic, we should withdraw from the United Nations, as it also gives standing to the same group of horrible authoritarian regimes. If we followed this line of thinking we would withdraw and set up an organization consisting of only democratic states.

    Hey wait, I like this idea. Carry on then.


  3. Ann in L.A. says:

    I find the coverage itself infuriating, particularly as a woman. The prime-time coverage is all about the stories of the athletes and not at all about their actual athleticism. This is done, supposedly, to woo the female audience. For two weeks you have an opportunity to see the best athletes in the world–people who have trained their whole lives to achieve excellence and who are capable of amazing feats of sporting awesomeness–and do we actually get to see them doing what they do better than anyone else? Nope. Sob stories and uplifting tales of sacrifice is what we get.

    I’ll watch curling and that’s about it. (Because, really, how often do you get to watch curling?)

  4. James Shuls says:

    I think you’re wrong on this one Jay. There is nothing wrong with being a fair-weather fan. I don’t follow baseball, but I root for the Cardinals in the World-Series. I don’t follow pro-football, but I’ll watch the Superbowl. I typically root for the team that I share the most connection with. The Olympics just turns the nation into a bunch of fair weather fans. Throughout the course of the year, I don’t care about bobsled, but during the Olympics I root for the USA because I identify with them the most (and because I have a crush on Lolo Jones).

  5. Mike G. says:

    For Winter Olympics, 18 or so of the top 20 medal winners will be democracies. China, Russia outliers. Let Norway have their day in the sun.

  6. Matthew Ladner says:

    I checked out after the Cold War ended. I doubt I am the only one.

  7. […] reporting, which of course has a vested monetary interest in the Games.  Two recent pieces by Jay Greene and Jonah Goldberg present a different view than you’re likely to get from Meredith […]

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