The Olympics make us arrogant

Every single Olympics signifies a new sense of secular competition, patriotism and a slew of heavily biased media coverage.

It’s common for Olympics coverage to tell a political backstory to explain rivalries between countries through the simplicity of sport.

Every two years, the Games seem to bring out the absolute best and worst of people.

We promote stories of athletes who managed to compete despite a multitude of different hardships. Oscar Pistorius, the Olympic sprinter who has no legs? I could tell you everything about him. There were a million of documentaries and features about how he overcame his disability to run just as fast as his opponents.

Alongside the touching profiles of certain athletes, our media coverage of the Olympics brings out the absolute worst in people.

Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with patriotism. Being proud of our country and coming together to cheer it on creates a strong bond.

It’s what make sports fandoms as cohesive as they are.

Studies show that the subculture of sports fans is a positive social enforcement. People see someone else wearing the sports jersey of their favorite team and they feel connected to that person.

It simply brings people together.

However, our sense of nationalism has its times where it makes us sound downright arrogant.

The 1980 hockey game between the U.S. and Russia carried with it a political rivalry.

Capitalism vs. Communism – movies were made, people were angry and the concept of playing a game of hockey was long gone.

Winning the game not only meant another gold medal for America, but it was an indirect “victory” for our political norms.

In Sochi, Russia, this pattern of boasting our superiority is still quite prevalent.

A great example is how the media covered team Germany’s decision to wear bright, rainbow uniforms to the games. A recent article in the Huffington Post implied team Germany’s decision to wear rainbow was a statement against Russia’s strict anti-gay laws.

I hate to be the bearer of boring news, but Germany chose the uniforms as a throwback from the uniforms they used two decades ago. We have a strong impulse to dig for conflict, even when there are mountains of evidence that there is none outside the realm of sports.

I’m sure a few of you have seen the pictures of Sochi’s living conditions shared virally by big-name, American journalists.

Tweeted updates were given on the sub-par accommodations provided to them.

Athletes and reporters were greeted by dilapidated hotel buildings, dirty rooms and unsafe drinking water. We snicker at these things, but it is more than just a joke. It was never news that Russia’s economy is in a depression.

I love being an American, and the Olympics remind me that we have it well here. However, there are multiple ways we can express the love of our country without indirectly scoffing other countries.


Column by Carly Besser, Opinion Editor