Blood Sport

I know, I know. After nine solid years of at least monthly blog entries, I’ve suddenly skipped a couple of months. Call it my summer vacation — seventeen days of which were spent (or wasted) watching the summer games. I’m more of a winter games guy, and I’m not usually drawn to the spectacle of people running and jumping and lifting heavy things in the July and August heat. But after tuning in to see what Danny Boyle did with the opening ceremonies, I was hooked by the craptacular spectacle of it all and couldn’t turn away. By the time the key allegorical centrepiece was over — a tribute to industry’s triumph over the natural world as I interpreted it (suck it, nature!) — I was hooked. Then it only got more awesome with Paul McCartney singing the interminable “Hey, Jude” while Ringo Starr sat at home, watching it on the telly, crying into a pint, and mumbling “I wuz a Beatle, too” to himself. This was followed by a solid hour and a bit of international athletes in The Parade of the Silly Hats. Marvelous. But I can’t say I really cared for the queen’s lauded acting debut opposite Daniel Craig as James Bond. They could have done so much more with the concept. It’s James Bond fer chrissake. He’d totally give Liz a good shag for Queen and Country, but mostly for Queen. Mr. Bond, you disappoint me. After nearly sixty years On Her Majesty’s Secret Service you deserve to get In Her Majesty’s Secret Orifice. Just close your eyes and think of England. And if that doesn’t work, just close your eyes and pretend Helen Mirren is still playing Her Royal Highness.

The Olympics are all about blood, sweat and tears. Emphasis on the blood. Sweat and tears are fine, but they’re just salt water and they don’t sell as many tickets. I was struck by how bloody this round of the Olympics were — like somebody decided they needed to compete with The Hunger Games for the attention of the next generation of sports fans. There were all sorts of open wounds and gushing crimson to behold, whether it was judo competitors bleeding all over each others’ nice white robes or an eight-lady pileup on the streets of London when some runners hit a particularly slick patch of wet road. When there were no open veins or spurting arteries to behold, the commentators all seemed to take particular delight in describing how painful every event was. Whether it was chucking a javelin or rowing a boat, they wanted us to know that every muscle in these seasoned athletes was screaming out in unspeakable agony from the moment they did a few warm-up stretches to their post-games shower and oily rub-down. And let’s not remind ourselves of the brutality of having to lug home all those impossibly heavy medals in their carry-on luggage. Michael Phelps apparently gave himself a career-ending injury trying to carry his haul onto the plane. Why else would this be his last Olympics?

Yes, it was the Torture Porn of sporting events. At least, that’s how it was promoted by our media. Perhaps it was their way to reassure fat, unhealthy North Americans that they really wouldn’t want to be fit and trim anyway. Look at the horrible agony these poor specimens have to put themselves through in order to have a slim shot at a hunk of metal that will often be won or lost within ten seconds flat following years or grueling training. Would you want to put yourself through anything resembling that in order to lose a few pounds? I didn’t think so. Now go support our nation’s competitors by having another Big Mac. Did we mention the 2012 Olympic Games were sponsored by McDonald’s, the breakfast, lunch and dinner of champions?

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