I have to confess that I hate the Olympics. I could give you a really long essay explaining why, but I'd rather get to the thing that bothers me today.
On my google feed of CNN, I saw the headline, "Heartbreaking loss for U. S. women gymnasts." I was thinking that they must have done pretty horribly. But no. They got the silver medal. That's not actually a loss, in my opinion. Another headline reads, "Golden girls no more." It just makes me wonder, what's with all the gloom and doom?
This is one of the things that really bothers me and women's gymnastics is one of the places where it's the worst. Americans feel like if you don't win a gold medal, you lost. Nevermind the fact that the Olympics is supposedly all about bringing countries together and enjoying the purity of sport. What really worries me about this is that womens gymnastics is the kind of sport that leads young girls to watch obsessively, to put up posters on their wall. I remember watching it, entranced, back in the days of Kim Zmeskal. Is this the kind of thing our country's girls should be seeing? National mourning because we didn't win?
It bothers me that when these girls make a mistake it leads to tears and embarrassment instead of good sportsmanship and a handshake like they teach you in tee-ball. It bothers me that the main story here seems to be us pointing fingers at China and claiming they've broken the rules. (These stories inevitably point out that the Chinese girls look like "prepubescent children," which I thought was how all gymnasts look. They also remind us that one was missing a tooth. Imagine that, a gymnast missing a tooth, it's not like they're constantly hurling their bodies through the air or anything.) Finally, it bothers me that we're not talking more about the problems with the sport, the injuries and the eating disorders and on and on.
To me, it doesn't matter if China cheated. If they did, it's a symptom of a gold-medal-obsession that I think we're better off without. If we can't show the world good sportsmanship, maybe we'd be better off ditching the Olympics and contenting ourselves with Saturday morning soccer games and Little League.