Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Olympics!

It's time!! The Olympics are here! WOO-HOOOOO!!! Granted, the opening ceremony has yet to happen, but there is already ice skating and some kind of scary snowboard/skateboard/somebodyisgoingtodie event happening on my TV.

I love the Olympics. I find them . . .

(Oh dang. The American male skater fell. Get up! Fake it till you make it!!)

I find the Olympics inspiring. And scary. And exhilarating. I find myself cheering for athletes, though only the cats can hear me. The personal stories spun by the talented producers at NBC make me teary. And usually, the history and stories told of the host city make me want to visit.

But this year, I have conflicting emotions. I'm super excited for the athletic competition, but I'm super sad at the attitude of the host country toward some cultural groups. I have friends who are boycotting watching the Olympics in order to protest the Russian governments horrifically violent treatment of LGBTQ people. I agree that the treatment of LGBTQ people in Russia is appalling, but I don't quite understand how boycotting watching the games has any effect on the issue. For me, watching the Olympics is about supporting and cheering for individual athletes, and not watching the games wouldn't allow me to do that. If I'm not careful, I will allow myself to feel guilty for watching the games.

I'm also already tired of the media's obsessive Schadenfreude lens that they are going to frame the games through.

Per Mirriam-Webster: Schadenfreude is "a feeling of enjoyment that comes from seeing or hearing about the troubles of other people."

There are already numerous social media sites being flooded with stories of how horrible the accommodations are, that many venues and tourist areas are still being built, that some of the skiing venues have poor snow quality - the complaints go on and on. These Olympics are quickly becoming an event where the media encourages us to make fun of the inept Russian government infrastructure. Schadenfreude. And in my opinion, this desire to laugh at the host is rooted in the dislike that the US has for Russia in general. The Russians are just making it easy to poke fun. But I have to be honest - I'm already tired of it.

I really want an Olympics that focuses on the athletes. I hope the moments that take my breath away create such a roar of joy that they drown out the media nit-picking about Russia not being ready to host the games.

I also hope my cheering doesn't freak the cats out too much.

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