Olympic games have always been about statistics.
THIS ARTICLE was written in conjunction with the Summer Olympics of 2012 . I’d intended to write about the “art” of the Olympics that morning, but I have a friend who mentioned that he doesn’t read my blog as much as he used to now that I write so much and so frequently about art. If it says “Art” in the title he skips reading that day. So I decided to throw him a bone, something more in keeping with the prurient interests of our fans while remaining wholly up-to-the-minute and culturally relevant.
Having made my career in advertising, I’ve always found the ads with Olympic tie-ins fascinating. Every commercial seems designed to capitalize on that global-scale celebration of athleticism and determination. It’s in your face, and fun for those who enjoy the entertainment. Unfortunately, in the 40 million-dollar-plus opening ceremonies chopping up the “art” with so much commercialism created a stir for NBC, though no one should have been surprised at this. Television is a commerce medium. If you want to see art, go to a theater or museum. Television is a vehicle for distributing corporately branded images and messages, and common sense tells you that the networks make more money by placing those messages where the most eyeballs are.
Before commenting on the Olympic sex scene I wanted to share a couple links. This first is a slide show of the top ten Olympic scandals. Hitler refusing to shake Jesse Owens’ hand is one most of us are familiar with. You might enjoy this trip down memory lane.
Here’s another clip you might enjoy: Nadia Comaneci’s Perfect 10 on the uneven bars. Amazing athleticism.
Now, to the topic at hand. There was a time when the media hid the foibles of its heroes. In The Last Boy, author Jane Leavy noted how in the old days you got in trouble for writing about a sports hero’s affairs or other woes. In the new era of sports coverage you get in trouble for not writing about those things if you knew were going on.
I’m sure that there was sex taking place on an Olympic scale sixty years ago, but it wasn’t till Sports Illustrated covered it in the 70’s (or whenever it was) that we really heard anything about it. I remember being somewhat shocked while reading about athletes having marathon sessions right out in the hallways of their hotels. And so it should come as no surprise that we’re getting more of the same forty years later, on a grander scale than ever, no doubt, because we have more journalists and bloggers and pundits. Even ESPN is in on the action. Here’s an excerpt from one of their stories:
Home to more than 10,000 athletes at the Summer Games and 2,700 at the Winter, the Olympic Village is one of the world’s most exclusive clubs. To join, prospective members need only have spectacular talent and — we long assumed — a chaste devotion to the most intense competition of their lives. But the image of a celibate Games began to flicker in ’92 when it was reported that the Games’ organizers had ordered in prophylactics like pizza. Then, at the 2000 Sydney Games, 70,000 condoms wasn’t enough, prompting a second order of 20,000 and a new standing order of 100,000 condoms per Olympics.
These stats, and others like them, are almost mind-boggling. You can read more of the juicy details here, dirty secrets of the Olympic Village.
In the meantime, keep going for the gold.
Originally published at pioneerproductions.blogspot.com
Painting at top of page by the author.