The Olympics and corruption? Wha…?

Masha

While watching the Opening Ceremonies in Sochi, I was confused by the athletes who marched behind the Olympic flag and were competing as “independent” athletes. I wasn’t aware of the ban of the Indian Olympic Association due to corruption, and hence the reason the Indian athletes were marching as independent athletes, until today when the Indian Olympic Association was reinstated. They were the first Association to be reinstated while the Olympics were taking place and they were reinstated because they held elections on Sunday to elect new officials.

Apparently this ban on the Indians has been in place since December 2012, when the officials who were being investigated for corruption were elected to serve as Secretary and Secretary-General of their national association. Those readers who live in the US, take a moment right now to thank God or whoever you pray to that you live where “innocent until proven guilty” exists. So the IOC banned the Indian nation from competing under their country’s flag until they elected new officials.

I’m not really sure what happened between December 2012 and February 2014, but the Indian Olympic Association finally got onto the task of responding to this ban and elected new officials just in time for Shiva Keshavan, the Indian luger (the crazy guy who trains on Himalayan roads – I’ve inserted the YouTube of his training runs that will make your hair stand on end) to march behind his country’s flag for the Closing Ceremonies. 

Now, being from Salt Lake City, and remembering the corruption surrounding the original organizers for those games (remember the Mormon guy who had a huge number of visits to a whore house as “Olympic marketing” and “Officials entertainment”?), and thinking back on how that was handled, the idea that corruption may be rampant throughout the IOC pops back into the forefront of my mind. There have been ongoing allegations about bribery during the site selection process, Committee heads who expect “presents” during the games, and other, shadier gifts (see Salt Lake above). I’m guessing the IOC debate about the Indian officials may be a case of the pot calling the kettle black.

Too bad not everyone shares the Olympic dream and follows the Olympic Creed:

“The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.”

In my world “fighting well” doesn’t involve corruption of any sort… just saying.

Olympic Glory and… Curling

Masha

I love the Olympics. Winter or Summer, I find the Olympic Games and their athletes incredibly compelling. The clear majority of these individuals are there solely to compete – they’re not going to come away with a medal, no one is seeking their autographs, they have no agents, and they are not raking millions in with endorsements. They are getting up at outrageously early hours for training (when I am drooling on my pillow, happy in my ignorance of their sacrifice), working at low-paying jobs that offer flexible schedules (unless they have managed to find an athlete-friendly employer like Home Depot), spending hours in gyms and, in the case of the Winter Olympics, cold environments to practice their particular sport.

I have one favorite sport that seems to be the butt of many jokes. Curling. Yes, there, I said it. I like curling. I had never seen curling until 2002, when I had surgery several days before the start of the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. Now being from Salt Lake City, I was excited to watch these particular Games, and I soon found that watching the Olympics on pain medication lends an interesting perspective to the experience. Yes, I first watched curling bombed out of my head (insert your own favorite druggie joke here… I’ll wait). And I loved it. There is a certain strategy to flinging a 40 pound piece of granite down a sheet of ice from a extremely low position to see who can get closest to a mark under the ice. Shuffleboard on ice, Icy Bocce ball, Chess on ice, Ice Bowling, I’ve heard all of these names when it comes to try to describe curling. And I think it’s compelling because it has aspects of all these games.

Give it a try – watch 30 minutes of curling after you’ve read the wiki on curling. Apart from the crazy pants that the athletes have as uniforms, you’ll soon see that it’s an athletic pursuit (I can’t just stand well on ice, much less throw anything down the ice and remain standing), the flexibility to bend down into the position to throw the rock and the rapid motion involved in the brooming (it melts the ice just enough to float the rock further down the ice – how cool is that?) makes my arms hurt just watching. It’s fun to watch, it’s strategic, and it moves quickly. So watch, on or off pain meds, it’s an intriguing event.

Canadian Curling team in Torino, 2006 Winter Olympic Games.

Canadian Curling team in Torino, 2006 Winter Olympic Games.

Pat

I have always felt myself extremely lucky that my wife is as big of a sports fan as I am. We have baseball season tickets, the MLB and NFL packages on Direct TV, and watch most of the Golf and Tennis tournaments that are on TV. We enjoy all these sports together and I love that! I also agree that the Olympics are full of athletes who are dedicated to being the best at their sport no matter what the financial gain. But curling. I’ve had more fun watching paint dry. The coverage starts at 1:00 pm today and I am leaving at 1:00 to play tennis and should get back about 30 minutes after the coverage ends. Ever heard anybody say, ‘Hey, want to go curling today?’