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Five-rings bling and patriotism

Five-rings bling and patriotism OPINION Opinion John Old It’s easy to have an opinion about the Olympics. Most Come 2012 I might well go along out of those I come across seem to be gripes, typically falling into three categories. of curiosity, not at the sport, but to see First, there is the cost of the whole thing, where my money has gone particularly for venues which it appears will be used once, and then urgently need an alternative use. Isn’t it possible to do the whole thing on a shoestring, like remote, leave alone pay good money and give up the in 1948? (Except it would cost a fortune to rebuild a time to watch. So to get the interest, and the money, tram system for the athletes to ride on the way to the coming in, we need the fancy venues, the razzmatazz stadium.) and the flagwaving. Like many other Britons, I can be Second, isn’t the whole patriotism thing hopelessly as indignant as the next man if I think my taxes are overdone? Shouldn’t we simply see the best likely to be blown on architectural white elephants, performers in action, irrespective of where they come but come 2012 I might well go along out of curiosity, from? not at the sport, but to see where my money has And finally, why is it necessary to have increasingly gone. And there’s no denying that the quickest sellouts overblown and elaborate ceremonies? If stilt-walkers at any Olympics are not bent sprinters but the opening are essential, why not have a stilt-walking event? and closing ceremonies. The trouble is that in many ways, these three are As for patriotism – apparently “Britain” – or someone now what the Olympics are about. As a purely claiming to speak for “Britain” – has a target of 35 sporting event it suffers that there are only a minority medals for this year’s Olympics, and a lot more for of sports which are really big box office, and virtually 2012. Now a lot of these appear to be in sports like all of those are either, like motorsport, one-day cricket, yachting and rowing, which aren’t normally even back pro boxing or American football, unrepresented at the page news, but swaddle them with the flag, and they Olympics or, like football, basketball or tennis, become everybody’s baby. distinctly junior versions of the real top-flight The relationship of the Olympic Games to sport is competitions held elsewhere. Just about the only roughly the same as that of a blockbuster West End Olympic sport with real standalone mass appeal is musical to the dramatic and musical arts. The track and field, and that has suffered badly from the performances might not actually be that good, and various doping scandals. (Virtually the only branch of you might not even recognise the tunes, but who athletics that has not been affected is marathon cares? Come and gawp at the scenery, be dazzled by running, and it’s not a coincidence that it hasn’t had a the effects, and have a good night out. This is sport high profile drug embarrassment.) for people who, essentially, don’t like sport. The plain fact is that the Olympics only really presents the highest level of competition in sports for John Old is a freelance economist, writer and which the average sports punter won’t even punch the management consultant. l l JULY 2008 International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship 3 http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png International Journal of Sports Marketing and Sponsorship Emerald Publishing

Five-rings bling and patriotism

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © Emerald Group Publishing Limited
ISSN
1464-6668
DOI
10.1108/IJSMS-09-04-2008-B003
Publisher site
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Abstract

OPINION Opinion John Old It’s easy to have an opinion about the Olympics. Most Come 2012 I might well go along out of those I come across seem to be gripes, typically falling into three categories. of curiosity, not at the sport, but to see First, there is the cost of the whole thing, where my money has gone particularly for venues which it appears will be used once, and then urgently need an alternative use. Isn’t it possible to do the whole thing on a shoestring, like remote, leave alone pay good money and give up the in 1948? (Except it would cost a fortune to rebuild a time to watch. So to get the interest, and the money, tram system for the athletes to ride on the way to the coming in, we need the fancy venues, the razzmatazz stadium.) and the flagwaving. Like many other Britons, I can be Second, isn’t the whole patriotism thing hopelessly as indignant as the next man if I think my taxes are overdone? Shouldn’t we simply see the best likely to be blown on architectural white elephants, performers in action, irrespective of where they come but come 2012 I might well go along out of curiosity, from? not at the sport, but to see where my money has And finally, why is it necessary to have increasingly gone. And there’s no denying that the quickest sellouts overblown and elaborate ceremonies? If stilt-walkers at any Olympics are not bent sprinters but the opening are essential, why not have a stilt-walking event? and closing ceremonies. The trouble is that in many ways, these three are As for patriotism – apparently “Britain” – or someone now what the Olympics are about. As a purely claiming to speak for “Britain” – has a target of 35 sporting event it suffers that there are only a minority medals for this year’s Olympics, and a lot more for of sports which are really big box office, and virtually 2012. Now a lot of these appear to be in sports like all of those are either, like motorsport, one-day cricket, yachting and rowing, which aren’t normally even back pro boxing or American football, unrepresented at the page news, but swaddle them with the flag, and they Olympics or, like football, basketball or tennis, become everybody’s baby. distinctly junior versions of the real top-flight The relationship of the Olympic Games to sport is competitions held elsewhere. Just about the only roughly the same as that of a blockbuster West End Olympic sport with real standalone mass appeal is musical to the dramatic and musical arts. The track and field, and that has suffered badly from the performances might not actually be that good, and various doping scandals. (Virtually the only branch of you might not even recognise the tunes, but who athletics that has not been affected is marathon cares? Come and gawp at the scenery, be dazzled by running, and it’s not a coincidence that it hasn’t had a the effects, and have a good night out. This is sport high profile drug embarrassment.) for people who, essentially, don’t like sport. The plain fact is that the Olympics only really presents the highest level of competition in sports for John Old is a freelance economist, writer and which the average sports punter won’t even punch the management consultant. l l JULY 2008 International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship 3

Journal

International Journal of Sports Marketing and SponsorshipEmerald Publishing

Published: Jul 1, 2008

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