UPDATED!: An Incomplete List of Why Nobody Really Gives a Shit About the Olympics Anymore

Add your own in the comments. After all, it's not like you're going to be watching the Rio Games...


Public Doman

So the "Games of the XXXI Olympiad" have their official opening ceremony in Rio de Janeiro tonight, around 7:30 P.M. ET on NBC.

If you grew up digging off-beat sports and are of a certain age (read: my age), this was the day you waited four fricking years for. Finally, a chance to see sports that network broadcasters couldn't be bothered to cover on any sort of regular basis (track and field, rowing, archery, soccer, table tennis, etc), get introduced to a weird, attractive cast of characters from Europe, Africa, and elsewhere (that tragic John Akii-Bua was one fast motherfucker!), and watch Cold War proxy battles up the wazoo (America's '70s decline started here)! God bless you, Jim McKay, you glorious, yellow-jacketed anchorman whose poise and occasional breakdowns guided us through the tragic and the triumphant like nobody before or since.

But that was then—and by then, I mean any time prior to the Atlanta games, which featured terrorist violence and the absolutely shittiest mascot of any sports-related event ever (see image to right of Whatizit or "Izzy"). Over the past several decades, the Olympics (both Summer and Winter) have faded as a meaningful arena of athletic competition and spectacle. In this, they are like many artifacts of the long 20th century—World's Fairs, say, and beauty contests—that have outlived their heydays. The World Cup is gaining in strength, while the Olympics…well, it was nice knowing you.

Here are some of the many reasons why (relatively speaking) nobody gives a shit about the Olympics anymore, and why that's not a bad thing at all.

  • The end of the mostly-fake-but-still-compelling fiction that participants were "amateurs" who competed out of mere love of the game.
  • A fuller understanding of just how much cheating went on among the athletes. First, it was the massive revelations about juicing by Iron Curtain teams but post-Cold War, it became clear that many Western athletes (Ben Johnson! FloJo! Marion Jones!) who won our hearts were faking it too (except for Carl Lewis, the greatest track and field Olympian yet one who was never fully embraced by the crowds, either). [*]: See below for more explanation.
  • The mainstreaming of sports TV and the ability of less-popular sports to gain an audience independent of the Olympics.
  • The disturbing spectacle of the Games being hosted by tyrannical and/or bankrupt countries and cities that wasted huge amounts of money on conspicuous consumption (Beijing, Moscow and Sochi, and Athens obviously, but let's never forget Montreal too!).
  • An endless stream of scandals implicating national-level Olympic Committees but also the IOC itself in just terrible, terrible behavior.
  • The growth in cosmopolitanism around the globe, meaning that we are no longer as mesmerized by "exotic" athletes from foreign countries.
  • Oscar Pistorius.
  • Bob Costas.
  • Rick Wakeman's 1976 soundtrack to the Innsbruck Winter Games, White Rock.
  • Brazil's political instability, Zika problems, and inability to control sewage.
  • The long, acrid hangover from the 1972 Summer Games in Munich, during which the Palestinian terrorist group Black September killed 11 Israeli athletes and coaches. In the wake of the murders, the head of the IOC, American Avery Brundage, famously declared that "the Games must go on," despite "two savage attacks." For Brundage, a lifelong racist and personal friend of Adolf Hitler (as head of the USOC during the '36 Games in Berlin, Brundage watch track and field competitions from der Fuhrer's box and pressured the American track coach to sideline Jewish runners), the second "attack" during the '72 Games was a threatened boycott of the Olympics by African nations if apartheid Rhodesia was allowed to compete. Beyond all that, endless boycotts for this or that reason, usually tied to politics, not athletics.
  • The Olympics, designed as a means by which France might avenge its loss in the Franco-Prussian War, is explicitly nationalistic in a world that is moving toward greater individualism.
  • "The Olympics matter less because we live in a better world, one filled with innumerable options for leisure and one mostly—though by no means completely—free from the most onerous aspects of geopolitical strife. We live in a world where nations matter less than individuals, a reality that is mirrored by the increasing number of 'nation-hopping' Olympians." And the rise of an actual "refugee team."
  • The IOC's insane attempt to control and regiment all aspects of the Games on the Internet, including a prohibition on GIFS, Vines, and other home-brewed content. Apart from all the scandals, the IOC is the athletic equivalent of Metallica, busting the balls of its most-fervent fans in the hope of squeezing a few more nickels out of a dying franchise.

[*] Updated, August 7: A number of people in the comments and on social media have asked a variation on the question: What's wrong with using performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs)? Longtime readers of my work know that I'm generally in favor of PEDs and I refuse to draw any sort of bright line between training regimens and drugs. Each are unnatural in their own ways and each is designed to give competitors an advantage; each also might help but also might not. In some sports—Major League Baseball and the NFL come to mind—acknowledgement of the widespread use of PEDs have had little to no effect on attendance and interest. Indeed, for baseball and football, individual players might get bad press but the fans have kept on coming because they like the overall results. In other sports, though, the exposure has caused an evacuation of spectators. Professional cycling has always used PEDs—early Tour de France riders used booze, strychnine, and caffeine—but revelations about Lance Armstrong and others severely damaged interest in the sport in the United States. I'd argue that something similar happened with the Olympics too, where the producers of the events were constantly bombarding us with rhetoric about how high-minded the goals of the Games are. This isn't a moral position, it's simply an observation: When fans feel like they're being lied to, they often (though not always) will head for the exits.

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    1. +6 Wives of Henry VIII

    2. I barely remember the opening to the 1976 games and don’t remember Wakeman being a part of it. Hardly a reason to not care anymore.

  3. Bob Costas.

    100% on board with this.

    except for Carl Lewis, the greatest track and field Olympian yet one who was never fully embraced by the crowds, either.

    Actual homophobia. Also, he is kind of a dick, but he was one of the world’s greatest athletes, if not the greatest.

    1. He was one cocky sumbitch, but like I always said – it ain’t braggin’ if you can back it up. And Mister Lewis could back it the FUCK up.

      My favorite? Dwight Stones – never had a good olympics, always go out and set the world record a week afterwards or something. He was a prickly asshole, too, but a great high jumper. And all technique – he could hardly dunk a basketball, but he could just 7 whatever back then. (I think they’re over 8 feet now – amazing).

      My second all time favorite – Edwin Moses. That guy was amazing – I forget how many races he won in a row over how many years. Dude was a machine. Loved him.

      1. He was kind of a crybaby too. I was there (here) in ’84 to see him. He had a pretty well deserved reputation.

      2. “If you call that running.”

        -Steve Rogers

      3. Yes to all this.

        1. In addition to costas sucking b*lls, its the entire cast of dorks on NBC digging up stupid stories.

          As much as I would like to see Costas in a tower of London rat head cage full of Brazil’s finest mosquitoes, so too could I be spared the torture of maria carillo or matt lauer explain the weekend activities of some kid from Nebraska leading up to them doing what they do.
          Basically it is the same emasculating effeminate coverage turning winning athletes into cry babies. The only thing that was great about sports of the past was the toughness that came along with competitors. Now all sports are accompanied by Kevin Nealon cutting the onion via SNL and Brett Musberger.

          It just ain’t that interesting but for about 6 or 8 interesting sports that involve super human freaks on roids doing sh*t really fast or high in the air.

      4. Thing is, being cocky about something nobody gives a shit about is just sad. I mean, there’s, what, like 3 or 4 people in the United States that actually care about who runs the fastest 400? And that’s in olympic years.

    2. Bob “I just have to speak out” Costas is the worst sports announcer, ever.

      1. I respect Costas in a way. He surprised President Bush with tough questions about world affairs when Bush was clearly thinking he was going to talk about the greatness of the US beach volleyball team.

        1. Right, but this is the problem, really. He’s obviously not happy with his job, and wants to be a political pundit.

          So he takes it out on everyone.

          1. What color is Bob Costas’ hair going to be? My guess: burnt sienna.

            1. How many ‘athletes’ will have ‘over come their mother’s heroic battle with X’?

              1. Or the reason why I stopped watching “America’s Got Talent” Every other singer’s sob story was “My parents hate me because I am gay!” Bet this one shows up more than once during the next fortnight.

                1. Oh, shit. It lasts two weeks?!

              2. this I’m so tired of trying to point out the most minor thing so that we will root for some all the while millions of people deal with shit on a daily basis yet don’t go around crying about it, of course the athletes aren’t but the media is in an attempt to get viewers

      2. You mean Bob “demon eyes” Costas…

    3. Watch the ESPN 30 for 30 about Ben Johnson. It will end any illusions you have about Carl Louis not being on the juice. And he wasn’t’ the greatest track and field athlete. He wasn’t even the greatest American track and field athlete; Jesse Owens and Jim Thorpe were.

      1. He is one the the world’s greatest track and field athletes. Gold medals in 100, 200, relays, and the long jump is pretty damn impressive.

        1. He was one. No question about that.

        2. Lewis was a drug cheat. Just like the others. He’s got 3 positive tests to his name, as far as I know. Take off the homo-colored glasses.

    4. Carl Lewis was great on his guest appearance on Perfect Strangers!

      1. Price check on pig snout.

    5. Shame about Costas for real. He was great at his job and one point, then he went all screwy politics.

      Yeah well, Ben Johnson whooped Lewis’s ass. CANADA FUCK YEAH! Greatest moment ever. Bigger than winning any hockey tournament; drugs or no drugs. Him lifting his arm before the finish line is stuff of legend.

      1. I was just glad Lewis walked away from the race in one piece. Lewis won by using drugs instead of winning Canadian style by breaking Lewis’ ankle like Bobby Clark did to Valeri Kharlamov saving Canuckistan from certain defeat at the hands of the Russikies in 1972.

        1. FUCKEN RIGHT.

          I don’t know if Kharlamov as great as he was would have meant certain victory but it did have an impact.

          Clarke was a mean son of a bitch and brought that to the Flyers.

          1. Kharlamov had owned them the first five games of the series. What Clarke did was so obvious.

            If you haven’t ever watched it, watch the 30 for 30 on the 1980 Russian Hockey team. It is great. They give a short history of Russian hockey and talk about that series.

            1. I thought that one was especially good. Hearing the Soviet radio call of the Miracle on Ice was just priceless.

            2. I thought that one was especially good. Hearing the Soviet radio call of the Miracle on Ice was just priceless.

              1. See how good I thought it was?

    6. After reading the introduction to all that’s good about the olympics moving towards irrelevancy, it was bob costas who crossed my mind.


    7. And a world-class cheat who was as dirty as Ben Johnson. As was the entire field, it turns out. Except the guy who finished last, if I recall the 30-for-30 episode correctly.

    8. And NBC tape-delaying everything, and running “features” on the athletes instead of covering sports competition.

      1. Seriously. Just shut the fuck up. Go to the event, tell us what the event is, tell us who we’re watching, show us the stats and rankings in a little box somewhere, and then just SHUT. UP.

    9. I was lucky enough to see Lewis perform during the track and field finals at the ’84 Olympics. Amazingly dominant. That Olympics was well run by Peter Ueberroth, on time and on budget. Even the notorious LA traffic was well managed.

  4. I would definitely care a lot more and maybe watch if they’d take the name of the ath-a-lete’s nation off his/her uniform. Back in the 70’s, that was 1/2 the attraction – us versus the Rooskies, them GODDAMNED East German MEN swimming in the women’s 100m butterfly….

    But now….I dunno. And mostly I like track and field, which translates better than many TEAM sports to non-nationalistic/tribal competition. Soccer sucks anyway, but it would be even LESS interesting if it weren’t some country or club or city you were rooting for.

    Anyway, fuck the Olympics. I blame Bush.

    1. I find it amusing that the Olympics are pushed as being competition amongst individuals in the best ideals of sportsmanship, but then in the next breath the announcers rattle off the standings, ie which countries have won the most medals.

    2. In today’s world, I’m shocked they haven’t allowed men to compete in the women’s and women to compete in men’s. After all who is to say who or what is a man or woman now, apparently? I guess most of the rest of the world isn’t that crazy yet.

      1. I’m shocked they haven’t allowed men to compete in the women’s and women to compete in men’s.

        Pretty sure there are some out trannies competing in a few womens’ events this year. If I gave a fuck, I’d look for a link or two.

      2. Hey it’s already happening. IN Alaska a girl, who was a boy for the first 14 years of “Her” life won the state championship in a high school track event. Would serve the feminists right if in about ten years “women” were completely out of “womens sports.” Heh heh.

    3. Make the Olympics much more competitive: let athletes compete for their shoe company instead of their country. Nike vs. Under Armour vs. Reebok vs. Adidas would be some great competition.

  5. I have always found the Olympics boring. However, the two events that I will actually sit down and watch if I don’t have to go out of my way are the 100 yard (meter?) dash and the downhill slalom.

    1. Women’s beach volleyball ftw.

      1. Only sport I watch.

        1. Biathlon is my favorite Summer Olympic Ev …

          Oh, wait …


  6. The olympics were ruined by turning them in to a fucking soap opera. The broadcast became 90% sad back story and 10% competition. That combine with the “All USA — All the fucking time” so we didn’t get to see some of the best athletes in the world competing in real time.

    1. The most apparent “AMERICA!! F**K YEAH!!” moment came in 1996 (I think) when the likely-to-get-gold American decathlon athlete was injured. All coverage of the decathlon, which had been heavily hyped, was 99% scrubbed from the programming (we only saw the winner, the first Syrian to ever win a gold in anything, doing a couple events).

      1. I can’t even remember the guy’s name now. Wasn’t there a huge shoe endorsement?

        1. It was actually the woman’s heptathlon, I got it mixed up. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghada_Shouaa

          I don’t remember the American’s name.

          1. I was way off. It was 1992, and the Decathlon. I was thinking of the Dan and Dave campaign.

          2. Wasn’t that Jackie Joyer-Kersee (sp?)

            The decathletes were in ’92, if memory serves: Dan O’Brien and Dave Johnson, or something like that. One of them failed to clear a height in the pole vault at the Olympic trials, thereby screwing up that rivalry.

            Any more, I prefer sports that have people actually competing against one another, not against the clock, gravity, or the love of some judges.

            1. Dan O’Brien failed to qualify.

              He then won gold in 1996. I was there for that.

              Johnson won bronze in 1992.

    2. Oooh, I hate that shit.

      Used to watch that Japanese show, Ninja Warrior and then checked out the US version. 90% sob stories and 10% actual athletics.

      “Sarah Jean is an Army veteran and recently trasitioned transgender person after her dick was blown off by insurgents in the Battle of Fallujah. She and her 9 kids were trying to make a life for themselves when Sarah Jean’s company outsourced her job to Iraq. Facing bankruptcy she built a $100,000 training course in her backyard to compete in American Ninja Warrior. Also, her dad has lupus.”

    3. Michael Phelps blah blah Michael Phelps blah blah blah Phelps blah blah Phelps blah blah Michael Phelps.

  7. “The fact that the Olympics, often propagandized as an event to represent the best of humanity, exposes some of our worst habits, graft, corruption and control.”

  8. Those stupid, over-long athlete mini-docs. Three minutes about whoever’s struggle to make to the games, then they lose a 30 second long race.

    1. Doesn’t anyone ever make the Olympics without suffering personal tragedy? Do people who come from nice homes and good childhoods just not have what it takes?

      1. Who cares about nice people from typical homes. We want to sell laundry soap to middle-aged women. We need trauma, drama, and sad stories to keep those bitches tuned into the show.

      2. To be an Olympic level athlete takes a degree of focus that often amounts to mental illness. I was seriously unsurprised by the News that Jenner had gone Tranny. We already knew he was unstable.

    2. Isn’t this American Ninja Warrior’s exact model? People seem to dig that shit

  9. Olympics, Wheaties, fiber, give a shit.

    We get it, Nick. Bludgeon us over the head with it, why don’t cha.

  10. The idiotic and/or nightmarish mascots.

  11. Too much swimming. Fuck swimming. I want to see judo and giant dudes throwing hammers. And diving. Fuck diving. It’s just even more boring vertical swimming.

    1. I think NBC must have been contractually obligated during the Beijing Games to show every single fucking diving contest.

    2. Swimming is great. It is a race. Who doesn’t love a race?

      1. It’s all the heats. Like running, show me the best of the best competing.

      2. The race part is it’s redeeming quality. It’s the 10 different types of strokes that’s too much. It should just be about who is fastest. Any stroke is allowed.

        1. Something I didnt know until recently…in freestyle you can do any stroke you want, except swim under water. There is a limit on how far from the wall you can be underwater. ITS FREESTYLE, DAMMIT.

          1. I didn’t know that either. I guess that’s all they need then.

        2. Something I didnt know until recently…in freestyle you can do any stroke you want, except swim under water. There is a limit on how far from the wall you can be underwater. ITS FREESTYLE, DAMMIT.

      3. Ghandi? He never cared much for those damn kaffirs.

      4. Why do they have any swimming events other than freestyle? Everyone knows the crawl is the fastest way to swim, so why a bunch of arbitrary styles that, no matter how well you do them, will never be nearly as fast? It’s like deciding to create a second 100m dash where everyone runs backwards.

        1. Honestly, it is because the other strokes were developed as an alternative to free style after you got tired. They use different muscle groups so you can be exhausted from swimming one and get a second wind by changing to the other. Once there were different strokes, you might as well race to see who can swim them the fastest.

          What I would like to see is a medly coed relay. You have four swimmers swimming the four strokes and each team chooses two women and two men to swim the four legs. That would be interesting.

          1. You’re going to have to come up with a new theory to explain the butterfly stroke. It was clearly designed to fatigue and drown a person in the shortest period of time.

          2. They do do this in competitive swimming outside international competitions. It was always my favorite. It’s strategy too for whose on which team and which stroke (as puberty hits, men’s physical superiority hits too). I always did backstroke, always (they start the relay).

            To you “other stroke” bashers….most swimmers who reach this pinnicle of swimming success are one stroke specialist. Sure they’d crush most elite college swimmers in other strokes, but they can’t match the Olympians in the other strokes. This is especially true of female swimmers. With men, you will never see the top breaststrokets in any other events and vis versa, cue Michael phelps. Same with backstroke. Then there are distance swimmers and sprinters. Just because you are the best in world at 50m freestyle, you may not even rank at the 100m never mind the 1500m. An education for you haters

            And people stop knocking swimming seriously. I have yet to leArn of another sport whose physical demands in training exceed swimming.

    3. Sugar Free secretly loves synchronized swimming.

      Best SNL skit ever.

      1. Yep. With the possible exception of the 60 minutes whoopi cushion bit. But damn that skit is timeless. “Hey, I know you. I know you”.

    4. Not just that I have a friend whose son is a diver in these games, I’ve always respected divers. When I was a kid at our local community club, I could do flips off the 2 meter high dive. Later I stood on the second highest platform they had at a public park and was too scared to jump off it.

      I’ll bet you wouldn’t have the guts to jump of the highest platform!

  12. The addition of events like “golf.” Who the fuck wants to watch PGA tour players play at the Olympics? There are far too many similar events.

  13. Too much focus on the midget freaks of women’s gymnastics and not enough coverage on the hotness of women’s rhythmic gymnastics.

    1. Women’s rhythmic gymnastics is ruled by Russians. The Americans are not any good — no coverage.

    2. We need nude women’s gymnastics, rhythmic or otherwise.

      1. Women should compete in the nude in all events. Because.

        1. Including shot put and discus?

          1. Clean and jerk

      2. Going back to the root of the word gymnastics.

    3. Aren’t the rhythmic gymnasts even more anorectic than the regular gymnastics?

      That having been said, the skills with the props are certainly interesting.

      1. “Okay. PUT IT IN NOW!”

  14. The end of the mostly-fake-but-still-compelling fiction that participants were “amateurs” who competed out of mere love of the game.

    I don’t think that’s exactly right.

    The olympics never had any particular ‘purity’ due to an appeal-to-amateurism (“Chariots of Fire”-aside)

    it was more that the events were themselves “pure athletics” (who can run the fastest, jump the highest, lift the most weight, beat the shit out of people, etc) rather than “games”.

    The addition of things like “Golf” to the Olympics is more a sign of its devolution than any development of “professionalism”. No one has considered olympic-level competition truly amateur (other than in the technical sense) for 100 years; Olympic athletes have for decades trained more intensely & with greater institutional backing than in many actual professional-sports.

    secondly – i’m surprised Nick refers to juicing as ‘cheating’

    1. Yeah. Cheating = didn’t run as fast as they claim.

      1. I just thought the doctrinaire libertarian position on athletics is “Do whatever you want, its your body”

        i don’t have hard/fast thoughts on it myself. I thought the congressional baseball hearings were one of the dumbest things in american history. And i think as long as the ‘dope’ isn’t dangerous, there’s no reason to stop people from using it safely.

        1. It’s considered ‘cheating’ because part of the idea is ‘unmodified’ human ability. Otherwise why draw the line at juicing? Just stick a head on a missile and enter it in the 100 yard dash and laugh as the head lives just long enough to win.

          1. the idea is ‘unmodified’ human ability.

            Yet the athlete who has multi-million dollar training facilities and dieticians and ergonomic analysts at their disposal is considered “no different” than the plucky chick from bumfuck-poor mongolia who happens to have some natural hops?

            We think THAT’s “fair”?

            all “training” is about modifying your metabolism to improve peak performance. people have trained themselves to death without ever touching “drugs”

            you obfuscate this by changing the subject to using performance-enhancers “During” events rather than as training aids. in that case, you’re using chemicals as a replacement for training rather than an aid.

            if your best argument against using supplements in training is to pretend there’s no difference… well, its a weak case.

            1. the plucky chick from bumfuck-poor mongolia who happens to have some natural hops?

              Of course, that plucky chick was probably kidnapped from Bumfuck Mongolia by the government and crammed into a training school that would make Hell Week look humane.

            2. I look forward to the Olympics viewed primarily as a competition in bioengineering and cybernetics.

    2. This… kinda.

      Yeah, they weren’t exactly amateurs. They had spent huge chunks of their lives training for that competition. But, in the sense that they were pros, they were pro bobsledders, shotputters, and gymnasts. Meaning that they were also probably pro cashiers, waiters, and firemen.

      My problem is with the introduction of true pro athletes from big-$ sports. It was one thing when the Olympics featured the Michael Jordan of men’s field hockey. It was another thing when they featured the actual Michael Jordan.

      Which brings me to my main point. The Olympics should be the absolute pinnacle competition of the sport. It is for less-popular sports. But the Olympic competition will never mean as much to competitors as the World Cup, NBA Finals, Stanley Cup, Masters, etc.

      1. and, as mentioned by others above, the god-awful human interest stories that occupy 90% of the telecast are intolerable.

        1. ^^^^ This. SO this. I don’t *care*. Just show the damn competition.

  15. I was a volunteer at the Torino games. The Italians lived up to their reputation as skilled organizers. I was assigned to the delegation from a former Soviet country. They had one athlete and about five officials. My job was to drive the officials around while they spent their poor country’s money and asked wealthy countries for more money. The other two volunteers never showed, so I did not last long. The Olympics are a designed to enrich officials and cater to athletes who are already the elites of their countries.

    1. I was a volunteer at the Torino games.

      The ones they held in Turin, Italy, right?

      1. The very same. 2006 winter games.

  16. Too much running. Show me the final damn race.

  17. Less cycling. It’s just NSACAR with no explosions.

  18. when i think “Olympics”? I think = “Third-World-Corruption meets European-style UN-bureaucracy”

    the athletics are just a sideshow.

  19. I like the winter Olympics better than the summer Olympics. The winter sports are more entertaining to watch and the locations tend to provide prettier backdrops.

    1. No. Ban the Winter Olympics until Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir are dead.

      1. And deprive me of the Russian Women’s Curling Team?! How dare you.

        1. I didn’t say we had to wait out their natural lives.

          1. http://www.myfacehunter.com/20…..n.html?m=1

            Well if they look anything like the 2014 team, I’ll be highly motivated to ‘insure’ their continued veiwership.

      2. You leave Johnny Weir alone.

    2. Very much so. Does the fact that I actually *enjoy* watching women’s curling make me a bad person?

  20. I feel a little dirty because I pretty much agree with all of SugarFree’s comments up to this point.

      1. Yes, that how it begins…

      2. I just wave around a Snickers bar like Frodo fighting off Shelob.

  21. “Bob Costas”

    He Who Turned The Olympics Into “Lifetime Channel Biographies, broken up by short clips of gymnastics”

    1. It’s been like that for a long time

      1. It began in the 1996 Athens games, IMO

        It was much discussed. It was going to be the ‘most televised’ games of all time (and the first US since the 88 LA?)… and the producers told everyone in advance that there was going to be a new emphasis on “Stories”. (to pull female viewers? to fill in the gaps between ‘high demand’ events? i forget)… and since then, they’ve stuck with that formula. = ‘Fewer events covered – more bullshit “life stories” injected to make the otherwise-boring events have more narrative ooomph’

        1. I was bitching about it in the 80s. I has progressively gotten worse.

          1. I hated the Olympics before it was cool to hate the Olympics.

        2. That’s why I use the DVR and watch them a little bit delayed. “Life story”, eh, skip skip skip.

    2. What’s the over/under of Bob doing a long-winded opinion piece on Bruce Jenner?

      1. I think the question is simply is “how MANY references will Bob Costas make to trans-genders” during the course of the olympics. the long-winded retrospective documentary ‘celebrating’ Jenner’s legacy is a foregone conclusion.

  22. More modern pentathlon.

    200m freestyle swimming
    show jumping
    pistol shooting
    3200m cross-country run

    It’s all the manly arts of the 19th century.

    1. 100-m dash
      Pole vault
      Uneven bars

      It would be like parkour where you get to stab someone in the end.

      1. “you get to stab someone in the end.”

        Will the euphemisms ever end?

    2. General George S. Patton came in fifth in the 1912 Olympics, but might have been screwed by the paper targets used at the time in the pistol round.

      1. As I recall, he used his service pistol rather than a tuned target pistol to stay in the spirit of the event.

      2. Yes, I highly doubt that Patton flat out missed one shot.

    3. It is a great sport. So is biathelon. Skiing and target shooting. It is like a competition for Bond villains.

    4. More modern pentathlon.

      Pokemon GO
      Duke Nukem

  23. My wife likes to watch gymnastics and occasionally diving. I take a look now and then just to see if any skulls have cracked open.

  24. Go read John Lardner’s stuff about Avery Brundage from back in the ’30s and ’40s. Cured me of giving a fuck about the Olympics when I was in college.

  25. The other dimension (which deserves its own separate analysis)… is that in the US we don’t have ANY sports which actually compete internationally quite the way soccer/cricket do.

    I suppose you could point to ‘tennis’, but its sort of a different thing.

    I mean, we just don’t have any opportunity to engage in full-on nationalistic Rah Rah–ism the way Europeans or Latin Americans do with soccer, or the way commonwealth countries do with Rugby & Cricket, etc.

    (*also – canadians don’t count)

    basically, the Olympics is our only outlet to go, “USA USA USA USA IN YOUR FACE LATVIA”

    We need occasional reminders of our global supremacy. It is like a periodic nationalist ego-booster.

    1. Canadians have hockey.

      1. Americans don’t have a sport they love and latch onto the way Canadians do hockey.

    2. And tennis is one of those sports where the Olympics isn’t the be-all and end-all. (Ditto soccer, which shouldn’t be in the Olympics either.)

      Although, tennis’ inclusion in the Olympics did result in injections of money into developing the sport in Russia and China, so in that way it did have a positive effect.

      1. Tennis should be amateur players or out.

      2. No, in Russia tennis is Boris Yeltsin’s legacy.

  26. Too much biography of the athletes.
    Little is shown of some of the events (judo and some of the ones SF lists above)and too much of others. (gymnastics, swimming)
    No one to really root against. The end of the Cold War really ruined the Olympics. Until ISIS has it’s own team who cares.

  27. I would still watch Olympic weightlifting, though.

    There’s nothing better than an awesome snatch.

    1. My euphemometer just blew a fuse.

  28. Media pics out mr and miss America (Ken and Barbie) and then dwell on their every moment. And then there’s the bad boy and/or girl. Same fucking thing.

  29. Fuck you Nick, Team Handball is my jam.

    And the worst part of the last Olympics was that they wouldn’t show anything live, so you had to watch it on delay at like 7pm when every sports and news page had already told you all of the results.

  30. Bring back the banned method of throwing a javelin; inject some danger for the audience.

        1. He just used physics…should get bonus points.

        2. “The furthest that a javelin has ever been thrown in an official Olympic event is 104 meters which was thrown by Uwe Hohn in the 1984 Olympics, however under the spinning technique Erausquin managed to throw the javelin 112 meters, smashing this record by nearly 14 meters!”

          So… 112 – 104 = 14?

          1. Well, yeah. Metric measurements, you know.

          2. Erausquin’s throw came in 1956 when the existing record was only 98 m.

  31. How about a libertarian triathlon:

    Joint rolling
    Border jumping
    Uneven buttsex

    1. 400m ineffectual bitching medley

      1. Orphan shot put.

        1. Monocle-polishing

        2. Orphan rowing, where they’re chained to the decks and the libertarian sits in an elaborate throne with a whip.

    2. Monocle polishing?

      1. We tolerate a lot of low behavior here, but I am outraged that you would slander the good libertarians on this board by suggesting they would stoop so low as to polish their own monacles.

        GOOD DAY SIR!

        1. I was thinking we could market it like gymnastics and go after vulnerable young children, particularly those in 3rd world countries.

    3. Improvized terrible epithet creation.

    4. Woodchippering!

      Head first: +1
      Feet first: +5

      1. Getting someone to leap in Tucker and Dale style: +10

    5. I would say, anything the The Ocho has on should qualify.

    6. Masturbation – from flaccid to fluid.

  32. Badminton, golf, table tennis, taekwondo, weightlifting, anything on a bicycle, whatever summer hockey is, and trampoline gymnastics.

  33. “…The World Cup is gaining in strength,”

    It already has its strength all over the planet. I think you mean ‘gaining its strength’ in the United States.

    That being said, screw the IOC and FIFA.

  34. Even my dad is bummed on the Olympics. He’s gone to 8 of the last 10, but not this time. The bullshit is overflowing. At least it’s not in Chicago.

    1. seems in Rio, the real shit is overflowing.

      And enough with the beach volleyball.

      1. It’s real big in my town. A few of the medalists live here.

      1. The last one, Alison Stokke, failed to qualify. Boo!

    1. Nice. Wood en pole indeed.

    2. Also, a Greek triple-jumper. And Maggie Vessey. And the US women’s soccer team.

    3. Poll vaulting – Clinton v Trump

  35. They eliminated sports Americans would watch – softball and baseball. I was very excited when I heard they added Rugby – then I found out it’s Sevens and instantly lost interest.

    The coverage just sucks. I refuse to listen to a second of Costas. Show me some quirky sports or I change the channel.

  36. Aliya Mustafina is now old enough to drink.

    I’m just sayin’.

    Team boxing is fun to watch.

    I have a friend who played team handball for a long time–when else are you gonna get to see that sport. It’s like water polo out of the pool (a lot of the American players are ex-water polo out of places like SoCal).

    Watching women play beach volleyball is awesome.

    The winter Olympics is better.

  37. Dressage.

    To satisfy the interest of the 1% of the 1% of the 1%.

  38. Those personal vignettes are annoying. So overly dramatic.

    I agree there should not be any professionals at the Olympics are no terms. The best hockey and basketball was when it was AMATEURS competing. Fuck the Soviets as great as they were. They were professionals beating up on college and farm team players. And even then they never could whack Canada’s third rate rag time players outright.

    Anyway, the pros have their own shit going on.

  39. As a rower myself, I would love for them to show at least one rowing event. If you want to watch some of the greatest athletes in the world, watch the men’s single sculls.

    1. We are patiently awaiting singlet pics.

    2. Normally I’d agree, but this year I really don’t want to watch them trying to dodge the turds.

      1. From what I’ve read, the facility where they are rowing and canoeing hasn’t had the same water quality problems that the lake hosting sailing, triathlon, and marathon swimming has had. Still, I wouldn’t want to get any of that water near me.

    3. I find Canadian networks show more sports than their American counterparts. I see a lot of rowing. Plus not as ‘nationalisticky’. I guess there’s a plus to not being a world power in the Olympics. You tend to spread the love around a bit.

      1. Lucky for you. Here all that’s on TV is swimming, track, gymnastics and Bob Costas.

  40. Nitpick: It was Ben Johnson (O common Ben Johnson!) who was drugging with the rest of the 100-m runners in Seoul. Ben Jones was on The Dukes of Hazzard.

    1. Ben Johnson jokes:


      I remember this one well:

      Headline 1: “Canadian Sprinter Wins Gold in 100 Metres!”

      Headline 2: “Jamaican-Canadian Athlete Tests Positive for Steroids!”

      Headline 3: “Jamaican Athlete Stripped of Gold Medal.”

    2. Ben Johnson was a fine actor, too.

  41. SNL Skit idea: Olympic official holding a press conference about how the sewage problem is completely under controlled, cut to bunch of guys on a crew rowboat hitting a “turdberg” and then slowly sinking as the rowers have to decide who gets to take the only lifeboat while the rest get left behind Titantic style.

    1. +1 Big enough door.

  42. Here’s the best thing about the Olympics.

    Our athletes kick the shit out of the rest of the world on a regular basis–and they get little or no federal support.

    There are two sources of major funding for Olympic training.

    1) Corporate sponsorship.

    Shaun White was picked up by sponsors when he was seven years old. Sponsors built a half-pipe in his backyard (I think ti was red bull), and then moved him and his family to the snow so he could train regularly. Various sponsors have sold billions off sponsoring him–and he dominated several Olympics, X-Games, etc.

    Snowboarding isn’t even a college sport!

    Government sponsored training fails miserably when they try to compete with corporate sponsorship both at scouting talent and training talent. In other words, it demonstrates the superiority of capitalism and spontaneous order.

    1. “Our athletes kick the shit out of the rest of the world on a regular basis–and they get little or no federal support.”

      Funny. It’s still way above what Canadians get. I always found given the support our athletes get, it’s a miracle they win gold medals at all. It impresses me.

      1. It isn’t a miracle.

        If kids taking up a leisure sport our perform centrally planned government training, that doesn’t surprise me at all.

        Central planning fails consistently.

      2. They would be like our military if it wasn’t for the corporate support they do get.

  43. 2) Peter Ueberroth was a genius.

    “Under Ueberroth’s leadership and management, the first privately financed Olympic Games resulted in a surplus of nearly US$250 million. This was subsequently used to support youth and sports activities throughout the United States.”


    That’s $250 million in 1984 money.

    They don’t go into the detail there, but, yeah, it was a privately sponsored Olympics in LA in 1984, using mostly preexisting venues, and it was wildly profitable for the U.S. Olympic committee.

    What Uberroth did with the proceeds was ingenious. Instead of having it spent by the U.S. Olympic committee itself (central planning) he split the money among all the local governing bodies for each support. Each of those teams were free to spend the money however they saw fit to promote their team sport.

    The U.S. Boxing team might spend their money to send poor boxers to training camp. If there weren’t any Team Handball teams in college sports, The Team Handball federation might use their proceeds to fund a number of Team Handball teams at rival schools and award scholarships to high school water polo players. The ski jumpers may have built themselves a new training facility. Some of them just banked it.

    The U.S. Olympic teams are still living off that endowment from 1984 today.

  44. +1 for Bob Costas

    In my house we have noted that one of the side effects of Zika is pinkeye….. so, will be get a repeat of 2014?

    1. Bob Costas hate forces me to turn the channel from the Olympics coverage. He ruins the Triple Crown coverage for me too. I hate that smug little gnome. And fuck him for bringing politics into everything.

      Although one of the highlights of a recent Winters games coverage was when Costas was interviewing Steven Colbert (who had raised enough money to finance the American speed skating team) and Colbert got bored and climbed inside the fake fireplace in the backdrop of the set and Costas was completely dismayed that the illusion was exposed.

  45. I haven’t watched them since I saw what happened to Roy Jones Jr. in Korea, the biggest fuck job in sports history.

    1. Agreed. I love how he just sat in the ring for minutes after the fight with the look of “Are you fucking kidding me?!” written on his face. Bad sportsmanship but he gets a pass in my book. Worst scoring of a boxing match I’ve ever seen, pro or amateur.

    2. Ah yes, Olympic boxing, for those who don’t think regular boxing is corrupt enough and needs IOC level corruption.

  46. Cailyn Jenner ruined the Olympics.

  47. Many years ago when I was in high-school my older sister moved into town and got hooked up with this new thing called “cable TV”. We used to go over to see her just to marvel at the 25 channels or so of shit she had on the TV, so much shittier than our meager 5 channels. ( 6 if you count that we got 2 different PBS channels.) My dad went over there once and looked at this thing and said to me one of the best pieces of advice I ever ignored. He said, “Jerry, it don’t matter if it’s just tiddly-winks – if you can find something to be good at, get good at it because by God they’re going to need something to put on all these channels and even if it’s professional tiddly-winks competitions you can be a professional TV athlete.” Who the hell needs the Olympics when you can watch world-class competitors in dozens of sports and hundreds of “sports” with just a couple clicks of a mouse?

  48. Because the antics of semi-professional athletes is pretty much meaningless.

    Ooohhh, you play a game for sponsorship money instead of a real job. Go to hell.

  49. I didn’t see the byline but could tell it was Nick from the pissy tone.

    I like gymnastics. Fuck you.

  50. Rhythmic Gymnastics and Synchronized Swimming are the events I’m most interested in. They get little to no coverage.

  51. The only good thing about the Olympics, ever, was Cathy Rigby, 1968. Perfect perkies. I killed more potential Jews than Hitler did.

    1. I had to read that twice before I understood what you were saying.

      And then I tried to un-understand.

  52. Another problem with coverage is that they assume we only want to see US athletes. I want to see certain sports regardless of who wins. And not prerecorded and edited for what they think we want to see.

    Show us in real time. With all the channels out there, there’s no reason to show such a tiny percentage of the actual competitions.

    1. But if you do that then you can’t cram as many commercials in.

  53. RE: An Incomplete List of Why Nobody Really Gives a Shit About the Olympics Anymore
    Add your own in the comments. After all, it’s not like you’re going to be watching the Rio Games…

    Not true.
    There are a lot of politicians in cities where the Olympics are being held care.
    Them and their politically connected cronies.
    I wonder why.

  54. B quality athletes competing in sports that don’t pay well, no thanks

  55. For me two things are the main reasons I don’t really care much about the Olympics. First, it the mind boggling corruption, the IOC doesn’t even try that hard to cover up the systemic bribes. Two, all the frikken ‘background’ stories with the obligatory orgy of suffering and sacrifice. I just want to watch elite athletes compete, I don’t give a damn about their personal lives.

  56. I love ESPN’s coverage of the X Games (Winter X Games rule) – it’s pretty much all competition. The play-by-play commentators do the athlete bios while the events are going on.

  57. Well, at least the opening ceremonies are, how did the creative director call it, a warning to the world over climate change. I shit you not. You can’t make this stuff up. Something about Greenland disappearing. Huh???? Cripe, then I guess their athletes will have to stay put in Brazil.
    Gotta credit them for having the balls for such unadulterated irony. Lead the way, Rio, and help us save the planet as you saved your city!

  58. How about:

    + The fact that Olympic teams are just a way to rally nationalism within the participating countries, which is one big reason why doping is so tempting as to be guaranteed to occur. We don’t need more nationalism to stoke the fires of international wars; we need more patriotism (as opposed to nationalism) within countries to tear down oppressive governments and make them more peaceful and libertarian.

    + Sports is a proxy for war between tribes/nations. As in ancient times, armies, rather than throw away thousands of lives, would often send forth their best soldiers for a dual (a la David and Goliath). The original Olympics were a similar proxy for war between the Greek city-states, to allow tribal warfare with minimal bloodshed. But why should tribes war at all? Should we support even a proxy for war? Why not support peace or proxies for peace?

    1. I find it is more about pushing the overall globalism narrative.

  59. USA defending their gold medal on rugby. From 1924.

    Yeah, even NBC will have a hard time screwing that up.

  60. Speak for yourself. I’ll be watching a lot of it, and watch the Parade of Nations if only to figure out how Kyrgyzstan (and North Korea!) wound up in the Q’s.

  61. Two words: beach volleyball.

  62. To me, the Olympics is just one more thing that governments should get out of. If “the people” really want to collectively spend billions of dollars on building a stadium to attract a convention of athletes from all over the world, some voluntary entity will gather the money and make it happen.

    There’s absolutely no reason that coercion should ever be used to fund an athletic event.

    1. In the bastion of socialist politics, we have one stadium built entirely at the team’s expense (while they were given the ‘land’ – it was made land, swamp with icing), AT&T Park: http://sanfrancisco.giants.mlb…../index.jsp
      We also have a hoops team which is not only building the arena at their cost, but buying the damn land! http://www.chasecenter.com/
      I don’t know why this is happening, nor do I know a way to infect others with why it is happening. But I sure wish I did.

      1. As a fan of both these teams since I was a kid, I really, really love, that even here, they somehow managed to do this. It is indeed remarkable.

      2. In the bastion of socialist politics, we have one stadium built entirely at the team’s expense

        Maybe it is precisely because there are so many regulations and parties whose hands have to be greased that it is cheaper to go Galt?

  63. While I’m late to the party but I’m still going to add this.

    Hardly *anybody* has ever given a shit about the Olympics – even during the Cold War. The only people who have ever given a shit during its whole existence are hard-core nationalists and their hangers-on. And fuck those guys.

    1. One other class of people:
      Sports agents.

  64. > is explicitly nationalistic in a world that is moving toward greater individualism.

    Pull the other one mate, it’s got bells on.

    From the tribalism of Clinton, Trump, Bernie and the Communist’s followers to Western Europe waking up about the threat that Islam brings to THEIR culture and THEIR desire for a western european cultural identity individualism is where it’s always been–out here on the fringes with the freaks and the outcasts.

  65. Opening ceremonies pitching British government run health care, and hectoring us on global warming from a polluted country that is strip-foresting the Amazon don’t help either.

    1. Strip de-foresting…. sort of like rows of woodchippers? Watch out for the squirrels. (Or squirrel monkeys.)

  66. Bob Costas. Nothing else need be said.

    1. Pretty much, yeah.

      Man, I wanted American Pharaoh to go rogue and kick his gnomey face in right after the Belmont Stakes. Alas, twas not to be.

  67. OT:


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  69. NBC ruined the Olympics.

    Want to make it interesting again? Each nation brings it athletes. But an official from another nation assigns them to participate in a different sport. Ben Johnson swimming! Nadia Comaneci throwing discus! Michael Jordan curling!

  70. Oh NOES!

    A American wins the first Gold Medal…for SHOOTING A GUN!

  71. The disturbing spectacle of the Games being hosted by tyrannical and/or bankrupt countries and cities that wasted huge amounts of money on conspicuous consumption (Beijing, Moscow and Sochi, and Athens obviously, but let’s never forget Montreal too!).


  72. Another reason: Allowing men to compete in women’s events?

  73. I hope that Carl Lewis comment was sarcasm, that man cheated and still couldn’t touch a (cheating) Ben.

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  75. Horse. Dancing.

  76. Separating Winter and Summer Olympics. So now we get the Olympics every 2 years instead of every 4.

    I have to say while living in Germany I enjoyed the Olympics more than I have in the US. They broadcast most EVERYTHING. In the US unless it is popular sport AND an American stnds a chance to win a medal, good luck finding it. In Germany I saw sports that I had heard about… but never saw. It did not mater who was likely to Medal, it was still shown.

  77. MSNBC just had a story about adding pole dancing to the Olympics. Maybe their should be a shark jumping competition too.

  78. “Why Nobody Really Gives a Shit About the Olympics Anymore” People such as you, Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh have misused the word ‘nobody’ so successfully that few realize that once ‘nobody’ meant ‘nobody.’ My grammar school teachers might have made me wash my mouth out with soap and water if I tried to redefine ‘nobody’ to ‘few’ ‘some’ ‘many’ or only ‘thousands’ or ‘millions.’ Alas, that is what the media does so well: distort, mislead, and outright lie about definitions. Your goal is admirable: your prestige, influence recognition and income. I will be a ‘nobody’ along with millions watching the Olympics. Please inform of us you current definition of ‘everybody. Is it 80%, 90% or what?’

  79. Actually, I thought that the men’s road bicycling race was pretty fucking awesome.

  80. Because there is only one gold medal opportunity for basketball (or fill in another real sport here) and about 30 for table tennis, which leads the Chinese to believe they’re actually competitive.

  81. The Olympics are far from perfect. There is too much government involvement. There is, perhaps, a little too much nationalistic fervor.

    Time Table

  82. So I tried to watch some Fencing tonight, and instead got 5 minutes about the brave Olympic fencer who’s competing while wearing a hijab. In Fencing. A sport that already requires people to dress up in formless padded clothes from head to toe. I got to see maybe ten seconds of actual fencing.

    After all some American guy won silver for fencing foil today, the first time an American has medalled in fencing since 1984, but NBC couldn’t be bothered to actually show that match. Nope, instead of actually showing two Olympic athletes at the top of their game, they had to show five minutes of hijab girl at home.

  83. The Olympics are only interesting to the extent that I can watch athletes from countries I pay no attention to otherwise competing in sports I have no interest in while pondering why someone would dedicate his/her life to being really, really good at that activity.
    Alas, it seems NBC is only giving me the choice to watch the major sports I could watch all year long or else its medley to commercials on the main channel. It does give me a nostalgic feeling for the old days of TV.

  84. Banning PEDs that are harmful makes a lot of sense.

    It’s the equivalent of banning blows to the head in football.

    Like a blow to the head, PEDs are effective for giving you an advantage in competition, but they come with a cost that the players as a group have decided aren’t a good trade off.

    In other words, if the players want to ban steroids because they think they have long term health costs, then I think that’s a reasonable decision. Not because it makes the sport “pure” but because the athletes have agreed to a certain set of rules.

    Banning marijuana makes no sense.

  85. Actually, thanks to High Def TV AND streaming giving me far more ability to watch the events I do like to see, I have continued to enjoy the Olympics more and more over the past few. Yes there is some nationalism, but I have also just enjoyed watching INDIVIDUALS excel and be recognized for their excellence. THAT is a very Libertarian ideal along with the other Libertarian ideal which is all the choice we have now in our ability to view the Olympic games. There should be praise, and not these flawed arguments from, the otherwise excellent, Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch.

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