Sochi – Olympics or Extreme Games?

Like a lot of people, I watched the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games which are being held in Sochi, Russia. And like most people, I was impressed by the amount of planning, dedication and effort put in by the organisers and volunteers. The amazing light shows, the dancers, the children and special effects were great. And like all Olympic opening ceremonies, the teams entering the stadium waving their national flags is always a great sight, as is the lighting of the Olympic flame.

The next day I thought I would tune in to watch some of the action. Unfortunately it was not quite what I expected. I was hoping to see some of the sports to which I usually watch during the Winter Olympics, such as figure skating, downhill skiing, speed skating and cross country. I had to flick the television channels as I kept seeing people on snow boards or skis doing tricks, and the commentators saying such unusual words such as shredding, switch, unnatural 360 and method. I was stunned to see some of the competitors using mp4 players to listen to their favourite tunes whilst competing. Why are these allowed in this sport? Was this the Winter Olympics or had I accidentally switched my channel to the extreme games?

Whilst I do concede that most of these athletes are highly talented and the sport in which they partake can be quite dangerous and risky, you do have to question the rationale behind making these 'sports' a part of the Winter Olympics. We have become accustom to Olympic athletes being humble, sportsmanlike and professional in their attitude and demeanour, and also in their performance. It was cringe worthy watching these 'athletes' act in a manner anything but that is worthy of an Olympic athlete when the camera was turned to them. They would either act like immature children who posed for the first time in front of a camera by making weird faces, sticking out their tongues or just acting immature overall.

The Olympic games is about competition and giving everybody the best opportunity in which to represent their country. Unfortunately these 'athletes' were more interested in shamelessly plugging their sponsors whenever the camera was turned in their direction, or sulking and visibly showing disappointment to the judges scores. Even the coaches got in on the act, with one of the Australian team members coaches uttering many expletives whilst criticising the layout and structure of the course. The interviews with the athletes were no better, which left one reaching for their dictionary on more than one occasion.

Some people will argue that sports such as these bring colour and flair to the Olympics, along with a new crowd of people interested in the event. Others will also say that we cant just do the same thing all the time, and everything evolves including the Olympics. The question is how much do we change things, and at what stage does this stop being the Olympics and is just a razzle dazzle show which puts the spotlight on petulant acting athletes? Have the Olympic Committees sold out to the sponsors or are they just trying to remain relevant in a changing world? Sure the world must change and evolve, but in order to uphold the spirit of the Olympics sports and so called athletes should not be included in such an institution until they prove that they can act in something close to the manner of an Olympic athlete.


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