Olympic Fool’s Gold and Our Own Sinister Shadow

By Blogger Chuck Redfern

So let me get this straight: That cheerful gold medalist traded in her family for a despotic coach, ran the gauntlet of a grueling training regimen for a crippling sport, mugged for television cameras and cut carrots with Mom for the up-close-and-personal NBC portrayal of family intimacy — complete with violins — and threaded quirky rules and judges for … what? The elusive moment on the stand? The shining trinket? The chance at the Wheaties box?

Can anyone say: “It’s only a game”?

Forgive my ambivalence. Forgive my heretical thoughts even while I oooo and ahhhh over all the results of the hard-work, determination and dedication: Maybe the Olympic Games — especially summer’s gymnastics and winter’s figure skating — don’t only emblemize the sea-to-shining-sea America of our dreams. Maybe they reveal our dark side as well: relationships are trashed in a mad rush for “the gold.” Mary Lou Retton swings on uneven bars before amoral Wall Street brokers and Dorothy Hamill does a pirouette at AIG. It’s all about fame and glory and glory and fame: focus, concentrate and visualize. Think pedestal … and gold … and gold and pedestal and pedestal and gold…

Yet I vacillate. Those contortions and leaps transform the human body into momentary, living art — and the athletes smile so innocently between doping tests. Besides, how can you argue against the joy of McKayla Marooney, Kyla Ross, Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas and Jordyn Wieber? Line them up with the young figure skaters and the case is closed: Anyone daring to say “yeah but” is the curmudgeon’s love child. They’re kids. Don’t you like kids?

Read full post here.

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