So, it’s (bread-and-)circuses time ‘at last’: Time to forget about solidarity with the Arab Awakening, to forget about the collapsing Euro, to forget about our day-by-day smashing of biodiversity and destruction of a liveable atmosphere; time also to forget about your own life, to forget about DOING anything, and instead to start sitting on your backside more; it’s time, once you are firmly sat, to project everything (jingoistically, of course) onto a specially-selected bunch of others, flown in with no cost or carbon spared.
It’s time to stop being and start SPECTATING.
Let the pointless ogling begin…
Yep: it’s the 2012 Olympic ‘Games’. . .
Let’s start, briefly, with the ‘greenest games ever’ (sic. – or: Pass the sick-bag, someone…). Can’t we, in this day and age, figure out better ways of spreading joy that don’t spread so much misery among our descendants? That is what they are going to receive from us, mostly: misery, courtesy of climate chaos (of which we have experienced a small taste here in Britain, this ‘summer’). Misery which is being contributed to by all this Olympic construction, travel, and so on.
I can hear one or two of you groaning already. “Why does he have to be such a killjoy?” Well, forgive me if I’m being curmudgeonly. It is probably because my potatoes, that I’ve just got back from seeking to harvest, have blight. (Why do they have blight? Because of this dreadful ‘summer’. (Why this dreadful ‘summer’? Probably because of incipient manmade climate chaos. (Why this manmade climate chaos? Because of excessive GHG / carbon emissions. – Which brings us back to the insane amount of flying, among other things, that our species is currently indulging in…including to make possible spectacles such as the Olympics…)))
Now let’s move onto the concept of sport itself. I have serious reservations about modern spectator ‘sport’. I think it isn’t really…sport any more. It is a kind of madly-over-rewarded professional body-machinisation and semi-prostitution. Goto http://blog.talkingphilosophy.com/?p=5156 for more detail…
It is true that at times of ‘great sporting events’, there is often some temporary boost to the numbers of people taking part in those sports. Is that a good instrumental grounds on which to defend all this spectating and getting-on-your-backside? Not really: Because imagine what we could do if, instead of saying to people “Sit still and watch these amazing geniuses [read: boring overpaid professional obsessives] perform!”, we truly encouraged everyone to BE, to participate, to DO… Imagine if as a culture we devoted the same energy and money to getting people active as we currently do to pacifying them… Imagine if we sought to enliven people’s own lives, rather than make them absurdly identify with others who in fact they cannot hope to emulate…
Or, as I think it should now be termed, ‘sport’. When referring to these professional capers, we should always put the scare-quotes in place… (As Confucius would have it: the most important task for a public intellectual is the rectification of names. The name of ‘sport’ has now been thoroughly turned on its head. We need to recover the old meaning (As in ‘What sport we had!’ Or ‘Now that was sporting!’).)
Let me be very clear, so that there is no misunderstanding of what I am saying here: I have nothing against sport (as opposed to: against ‘sport’). What I like is PARTICIPATION; what I don’t like is mere spectatorship. I like cycling – much more than I like WATCHING cycling, for example. I like playing table-tennis once in a while. I think our world would be far happier and healthier if we played sport, rather than watching ‘sport’.
And of course I am not just criticising the Olympics; not at all. On the contrary: the problem is rampant across ‘sport’. The trouble with soccer, nowadays, for instance, is that soccer is infected with the same cancer of professionalism as everyone else, as all major ‘sports’. Soccer teams don’t really represent their local town any more. They [players, and teams] are just bought by the highest capitalist bidder.
It’s time to end ‘sport’ — and bring back sport. Reflecting on what is wrong with these Olympics (see for instance http://www.opendemocracy.net/amal-de-chickera/games-have-begun-opportunity-missed & http://www.redpepper.org.uk/the-neoliberal-games/?utm_source=Pepperista&utm_campaign=955a1a4a9c-96035f6d2dc1a0ab8d89ff1b8516f23b&utm_medium=email ) is an ideal time to start to do so…
But don’t just sit there! Don’t even just write comments on what I’ve written… Don’t just exchange a TV screen for a computer screen… (And if you do write comments, then do be a bit…playful…)
Rather, get out there, into the wonderful outdoors, and play.