I love sports.
I have always loved sports, of pretty much every variety. I’ve been participating in them, in both an organised an informal capacity, since before I formed my first memory. I cannot remember learning to skate, and there are photos of me out for a run with my Dad, taken prior to my forming permanent memories.
I love playing sports more than watching sports, but I still love to watch sports. Particularly when the participants are the best in the world. I love watching the Super Bowl. The World Series. The World Cup. The Stanley Cup.
And the Olympics.
The Olympics hold a special place, above those previously mentioned. It’s the fact that it’s amateur sport on display, and the four year gap between games.
There’s something special about people who have sacrificed to be the best in the world at their discipline, rather than those that are grossly over-rewarded for playing a game. There’s something special about people who get perhaps a single chance to shine, as they can spend up to ten years at the pinnacle of their sport yet have that decade include but one Olympic Games. One chance on the world stage. There’s something special about the fact that they are unused to celebrity, and lack the media training that leads to the cliches in a professional athlete’s sound bites.
The Winter Olympics are particularly special.
While my own sport is part of the summer Olympics, they don’t compare to the winter games — at least, for a Canadian.
It might be that I can relate to all the sports. I skate. I ski — downhill and cross country. I toboggan, which is close (in spirit) to the luge, skeleton and bobsled. I play hockey. I have even curled. Unlike the summer games — I’ve never pole-vaulted, or thrown a javelin, or found myself in a judo fight — I feel like I can relate to every sport in the winter games. And that makes the ability of each athlete stand out.
It might also be that my country is good at the winter games. Canada doesn’t have many outstanding summer athletes. And that’s because our gifted athletes are playing hockey. Or skiing. Or skating very, very quickly. And so on.
It feels good to take sides – at least, when your side is victorious. Let’s not count that out.
And so, with the winter games in Sochi beginning tomorrow (with an opening ceremony on Friday), I should be very excited.
Instead, for the next several weeks I’ll be avoiding all news stories about the games — save those that mention scandal, or protest. I won’t be watching on TV. I won’t be cheering on Canada, as we try to defend our place at the top of the gold medal column from 2010.
The Olympics are, reputedly, about inclusion. About coming together, despite our differences, to play games in front of the world. And as such, holding the games in Russia this year is an embarrassment. Russia has gone out of its way to be an unwelcoming place to people who are members (or supporters) of the LGBT community.
It is, in fact, a crime to voice support for homosexuals.
It is, in practice, acceptable to assault and humiliate homosexuals.
And the Olympic Games should not be held in such a place.
So, fuck you Olympics. I refuse to watch. And I refuse to buy anything from your sponsors — thanks for listing them — who should have withdrawn their support, but did not.
And Coca-Cola? This kind of shit will have me avoiding your products forever. Future conversations at restaurants will look like this:
Me: I’d like a Pepsi.
Waitress: Is Coke OK?
Me: No. Just water, then.
And Olympic athletes?
I understand. You have worked your whole life to get to this point. And I want to watch you — so let me. Unfurl a rainbow flag at your medal ceremony. I’ll watch the reruns.
Queer Olympic rings by BlueLucy