Monday, August 11, 2008

olympics=patriotism?

I'm not watching the Olympics this year. Does that make me unpatriotic?

As a young girl, I eagerly anticipated the Summer Olympics, especially during the Mary Lou Retton years. I wasn't a gymnast but I loved watching those girls twist, bend, flip, and jump their way to a medal. It was fascinating.

But this year? I could care less. And I kinda feel bad about it.

Only, here's the thing, I really hate that the Olympics are in Beijing. The air quality is terrible, and we shouldn't put our athletes through that, but that's not even the main reason.

Basic human rights. China is notorious for their uncaring and inhumane treatment of their own people. Why should we support their economy...which ultimately supports their human rights policies.

I support the athletes and wish them every success in the world. But I really struggle with watching this year's events. I suppose I could equate this to supporting the soldiers but not supporting the war. But I can't help but feel a little bit unpatriotic in the process. What do you think? Do I still bleed red, white, and blue?

25 comments:

  1. Oooooooh this is a good topic. I don't think you have to watch the olympics to be patriotic. I don't think you have to watch the olympics to support our athletes. And I don't think people should have to support a country they don't think treats their people well in order to be viewed as "patriotic".

    I'm not watching the olympics, either, but mostly because they just bore me. haha.

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  2. I agree with you, but we are watching them. Casey is obsessed with Michael Phelps and with her new found love of swimteam I want her to pursue a dream like the Olympics if she wants. We can't help where they are and how that country benefits from it so why fight it? I just say support the athletes and cheer for Phelps!!

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  3. I don't think you're unpatriotic if you don't want to watch the Olympics, but you should realize that this is a big deal to the Chinese people, and 99% of them have nothing to do with China's human rights records, Tibet, etc.

    Most regular people are just so happy to have a chance to show off their country and ensure that every visitor has a good time. Many people volunteered and learned English and so on so they can do that. (I've seen several documentaries and TV shows about that in Japan, so maybe I'm much more inclined to look at the event more favorably.)

    I personally think that the US media did a crappy job of reporting about China & the Olympics. They made it sound like boycott = promoting human rights. Not so. All it does is make the Chinese angry that someone out there ruined a great party they spent a lot of money and effort on and make the athletes feel bad for not being pro-human rights or something. How many athletes in Beijing do you think are mad that they're competing, bad air or no?

    P.S. I'm not Chinese in case anybody is wondering. Just an American ex-pat in Asia.

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  4. good points, Nadia! thanks for commenting and showing your views on it!!

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  5. I don't care for China either, but I have been watching.

    Last night, when the men's swim team beat France (after they talked trash about us) in one of the most amazing races I've seen, I actually pumped my fist and cheered out loud. It was a proud moment. I wanted to hug those guys myself and tell them what an amazing job they did in the face of so many saying they couldn't.

    They are a shining example of what a person can accomplish and they worked together, as a team, with amazing support and precision. Totally awesome.

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  6. Hey Rhonda,

    I hope I didn't sound harsh or something. :) It's so hard to show that I'm not really condemning anyone for wanting to boycott or something. Just wanted to show another side of the situation. :)

    Kristen -- You saw that too, huh? I watched that live, and I was yelling the entire time! It was the most spectacular thing ever!

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  7. nadia,
    I completely understand your point and agree with you. The people deserve the chance to shine. But the bigger issue for me is all that money we're pumping into the chinese economy. I hate that we're putting our head in the sand. We're very good and pretending that 'stuff' isn't going on as long as we are getting something out of the deal.

    I do think the Olympic Athletes deserve their time to shine and I completely support that. I want the USA to do well because I want those athletes to reap the rewards for all their hard work and sacrifice. I hate that their big moment is marred by government politics.

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  8. The money China is earning from the Olympics is very small compared to the money they get from exporting stuff to the States. As long as Americans continue to buy "made in China", China will continue to become richer and richer.

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  9. I am addicted to watching the Olympics. I'll even watch weightlifting.

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  10. What a hot topic. Great post, Mel. I hate all the politics of it, but I'm all for the 99% that Nadia talked about. I don't think China was the right choice of place to have it but now that they are there, oh well.
    I usually don't watch it but it seems to be on my tv for some reason I guess because my 14 year old is watching it. I was moved by Yao Ming carrying the flag for China along with the young boy who survived the earthquake.

    I too saw the men's swim team win last night and was quite happy about that. My son was actually cheering "USA-USA!" I have never done that in my life. I guess he caught the fever but I guess that's what he whole pride in your country thing is all about.

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  11. I think that one of the most patriotic things you can do is take advantage of our free speech--which you have done, Melly.

    But I am enjoying watching here and there. There are so many emotions--and that relay race last night---oh my goodness. I forgot to breathe.

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  12. I try very hard not to buy stuff 'Made In China'. Being very poor makes it hard though.

    I rarely watch the Olympics because watching sports bores me. I'd rather participate. It's been about two decades since the last time I watched even a part of the Olympics.

    One thing, China is the perfect place for unrestrained capitalism. Capitalism doesn't care much for restraints on its actions. Human rights, worker safety and pollution regulation are restrictions on its actions.

    In a democracy, where everybody has a say, capitalism is much more restricted. In a dictatorship, where the people in power and the capitalists are often the same people, or at least have the same mindset, capitalism is much freer to act as it wishes.

    The high points of capitalism in the West were Britain at the beginning of the 19th Century and America in the late 19th and early 20th.

    Britain wasn't much of a democracy at the time. Only white men who owned property could vote. It was in the grip of the 'Rotten Borough' system. The local lord paid the voters to vote a particular way and since the voting was not secret he could make sure people voted the way he wanted.

    America to all intents and purposes still had slavery in the form of segregation. A large portion of its population was recent immigrants who weren't citizens and couldn't vote. It was democratic for the times but not really, in my opinion.

    With power so tightly controlled and big pieces of the population having no say it was a perfect environment for unrestricted capitalism.

    It made both countries great, but at a heavy cost to many, many people.

    Just like China today. ;)

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  13. I don't think you need to watch the Olympics to be patriotic. And I can totally agree with the idea of not watching as a protest against the Chinese gov't.

    I'm watching, but then again, I'm an avowed Olympics junkie. I get chills every time I hear that anthem.

    And I agree with Nadia. I am so excited and proud for the Chinese people to have this opportunity to share their culture with the world. The overwhelming majority fo them have nothing to do with their gov't policies.

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  14. Karin - I sat up last night and watched the rely race also. WHAT A FINISH! So exciting. Take that, France! LOL

    Generally, we aren't watching, unless it's swimming. Track and field does nothing for me. Basketball? If we don't dominate, something's wrong.

    The air pollution is just awful, isn't it? Hubby says the reports on ABC and CBS are so different from NBC. The other networks are talking about the pollution and problems. NBC isn't, but that's to be expected.

    I don't think it makes you unpatriotic to not watch. But you are missing some incredible swimming! And the shoulders and chests of these swimmers....yummy. The muscles and the sheer power in those shoulders...I get breathless just thinking about it! LOL Try to catch a little of the "view" for inspiration.

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  15. I wasn't thrilled when China was chosen to host these games, but I am watching some events - the opening ceremony was one of the best ever. And, like others here, I was cheering on our team in the pool last night. Not only did they work together to beat the trash-talking French, they set a new world record in the process. The stunned faces of the French team were priceless!

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  16. I do like to watch some swimming, but in VERY small doses. Too much swimming and my eyes glaze right over. I didn't make it to the relay, which I did want to see, because they showed the breast stroke and fly earlier and those have got to be the world's most boring strokes. Yawn!

    So I went to bed.

    But I got to see gymnastics, and that's all that really matters anyway, in my opinion.

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  17. I love hearing stories about people from different countries, and our own athlete stories. There was an AMAZING story last night about one of the gymnasts on the German team (she's 33 and competing in the Olympics! She formerly competed in her youth for the Russian Unified Team. She's out there competing with girls who are barely 16 and holding her own!)

    I feel sorry for these athletes who have one opportunity every four years to go out there and really compete on an international stage and when they do, they're always caught in the middle of political crap.

    Isn't it sick that we are angered by China's human rights violations and yet we're willing to borrow trillions of money from them. Our government should be ashamed of themselves, our athletes have nothing to do with it.

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  18. ps--it's not all events that bore me...I do find some quite enthralling. And whether I watch or not, I still support USA!!

    Wow, this is a really good topic for the day. Good job, Mel!

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  19. Like you, I feel torn Mel. But I have watched some of the events so that I can cheer on our athletes. In an imperfect world such as ours, all we can do is voice our opinions where it counts most-in the pocketbook and on the first Tuesday in November.

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  20. Anonymous3:22 PM

    china pretty much owns the united states because of our debt

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  21. Mel, I too, used to adore the Olympics. I remember being glued to the TV during 1984 with the gymnastic teams and Greg Louganis, etc. I think what's changed now from then is we were able to watch events live throughout the day and not the packaged, media-marketed, human interest story-layered, tinkling piano music tape delay that is prominent today. You used to be able to see all medal ceremonies. Now, you only see the one or two major American wins.

    For me, the Olympics aren't so much about being all red, white, and blue, but it's more of a celebration of the athletes and all they've accomplished. I love to see someone who's worked hard all of their life and given up things get up on that podium and belt out their national anthem, whatever it may be.

    I'm not really watching either because I can't take the way it's edited, but I do follow the news stories, just to keep up with pop culture.

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  22. Oh...and for the record, I prefer the winter games to the summer ones. It's the wanna-be Canadian in me. = )

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  23. I support the athletes and my heart breaks for them. But man, was I ticked when China was chosen. The government behaves disgracefully and they have been very bad hosts.

    I get really angry every time the commentators gush. It's so obviously pandering.

    So though I have watched a few... I also refuse to support the hosts of this Olympics. And you can't tell me all of the girls on that Chinese gymnastics team are 16.

    But the flip side is the former Russian gymnast now on the German team... she's 33 and went there to get her little boy treated for lukemia. And one of the main contributors to the financial battle? Former Russian team-mate Valeri Liukin, father of US team hopeful Nastia...

    THAT'S my Olympics. :)

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  24. Yeah, Chrissy, even before they mentioned the controversy about how some newspapers were reporting that the Chinese may have doctored the passports and birth certificates for the gymnasts to make them appear 16, I said to Mr. Brice "wow, she looks 8 or 9!"

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  25. I'm fuming over that absolutely adorable little tyke who got lip-synced out because of the gap in her teeth. A panel member said she wasn't pretty enough, so they found a "perfect" girl to lip-sync.

    WT????????????????????

    I'd like to beat the crap out of whomever that person was. What's cuter than a kid with goofy teeth singing???

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