Saturday, August 23, 2008

Olympic Notebook

So let me get this straight: A Cuban tae kwon do competitor was disqualified for taking too long after an injury, and reacted to his disqualification by attacking the judge (who, presumably, also knows tae kwon do, or he wouldn't be judging it)? Call me crazy, but if you're well enough to go berserk on the official, you're probably well enough to get back in there.

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With statements by IOC President Jacques Rogge have made it very clear: the disappearance of baseball and softball from the Olympics after this year is nothing more than a power play. Rogge said baseball would be back as soon as MLB agreed to shut down its season and send those players to the games. In other words, our games are bigger than your games, so do what we tell you to and we'll give you the opportunity to help line our coffers.
To which, of course, MLB said a polite "Screw you, we've got our own international tournament, thanks" and that's where it sits (despite IABF president Harvey Schiller's apparent eagerness to sell out MLB). That's where it should sit, frankly, because it wouldn't just be a case of shutting down baseball season for two weeks during the Olympics. It would also mean shutting down games for qualifiers. It would mean disrupting the season at different points, often in the middle of the pennant races. It would mean inevitable injuries when some third-string situational lefty from the Netherlands decides to take his moment of Olympic glory and use it to put a fastball behind Chase Utley's ear. And most of all, it would mean kow-towing to the corrupt, mismanaged, tantrum-throwing blackmail machine that is the IOC, which has no qualms about using the hammer of patriotism to shame people into making its generally loathsome* executives very rich indeed.
And lost in all this is the irony. The Olympics are crying foul because MLB isn't sending its best professional athletes. How long ago was it that the US was brutalized in the world press for daring to send professional basketball players? How long ago were the Olympics held up as the ideal of the amateur athlete?
It all smells like hypocrisy. And greed. And money.

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I'm very glad the Olympic basketball team did not act like dickweeds this time around. That being said, most people take that as a baseline for civilized human behavior. We've come a long way, but that doesn't mean we've followed the right road.
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