Afternoon InqueeryEvents

AI: The Games

So, apparently the Olympics is going on in London! I really wish they’d let us know at some point. I do love a good sports day, even if they don’t have an egg and spoon race.

As you can probably guess, I don’t really care about competitive sports, particularly the ones I’m meant to care about. I probably won’t be watching the Olympics at all – in fact, I’m counting the days until it’s over and the blanket coverage ends. (Also, the references to athletes as “heroic” or “superhuman” – really?) However, even some hardened sports fans are finding it hard to keep optimistic about the Games. It’s failed to keep most of its promises, and there are stories every day about the Olympic committee’s ridiculous rulings, many of which concern the interests of the corporate sponsors. 

People who go into the stadium aren’t allowed to wear certain clothes that conflict with those sponsors or pay with anything except cash or Visa cards. A “brand army” has been created to monitor businesses’ and advertisers’ use of words like “gold”, “summer”, “sponsors” and “London”. (Considering the sponsors include McDonalds, Coca Cola and Dow Chemical, I’m not sure why they’re so keen on protecting them.) The Army had to be drafted in to provide security when private company G4S failed to do so adequately. Women still lose out in terms of events and medals – reflective of a wider problem in sports, perhaps, but the Olympics should be the place to break that pattern.

Oh, and did I mention some people have had missiles put on top of their houses? It’s “legitimate and proportionate”, you guys!

Of course, those in charge respond to concerns like this with dismissal, because clearly we’re trying very hard to find things to be annoyed about concerning an event that’s cost billions of pounds and done a lot more harm than good. If you’re planning to watch the Olympics – maybe you even managed to get tickets – I hope you enjoy them, despite all the fail surrounding them. Either way, I hope you enjoy this video of London (can I say that?) Mayor Boris Johnson’s Olympic welcome.

Will you be watching the Olympics? If not, why not? Are you interested in competitive sport as a whole?

The Afternoon Inqueery (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Queereka community. Look for it to appear on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, at 3pm ET.
(Featured image by Ben Sutherland on Flickr.)

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Courtney is a theoretical physics student at Imperial College London, broadly identifying as cisfemale, panromantic, asexual and atheist. She lives with mental illness (worst room-mate ever) and hopes to help break down the stigma attached to admitting that. Her hobbies include campaigning, internetting and spectacularly failing to defy any stereotypes regarding British people and tea. She also identifies as an X-Phile/Browncoat/Whovian, which are clearly the most important things.


  1. July 26, 2012 at 9:09 pm —

    I plan on watching the Brazilian female soccer team kick everybody’s asses, yeah.

    I generally find the Olympics a fun thing to watch. Professional competitive sports are something quite beautiful to me, actually.

    But because Brazil is next to host it, I’ve been paying more attention to how much it is actually a lot of trouble and make-believe that perhaps won’t leave the best of legacies to the citizens that have to live with it. I’m specially worried now that you point out the kind of controversies London has had. I can’t imagine what sort of chaos will take over Rio de Janeiro what with their super ambitious plans of basically rebuilding a huge part of town.

    (Though I actually am sort of experiencing that chaos, because I live in one of the cities that are supposed to host 2014’s FIFA World Cup and OH BOY)

  2. July 26, 2012 at 10:47 pm —

    I’ll be honest. I watch only a few events during the Summer Games: gymnastics (both men’s and women’s), men’s diving and men’s swimming (hot guys in speedos!), and tennis. That’s all.

    I’m generally not a sports person. I occasionally watch some sports, but not usually the very mainstream ones like soccer (football), American football, rugby, basketball, baseball, etc.

  3. July 26, 2012 at 11:31 pm —

    I’ll watch the Olympics when they stop discriminating against our robotics brothers, sisters, and evil overlords and let machines compete. People complain that you’d have motorcycles winning all the races and cranes winning all the lifting competitions, and ICBM’s plunging the earth into nuclear winter at all the soccer matches, but that’s just how SkyNet made them.

    So no, I won’t be watching this discriminatory abomination. Also, this is the summer Olympics, and they don’t have curling.

  4. July 26, 2012 at 11:55 pm —

    I do wish people would stop pulling out that story about the Australian basketball teams without bothering to fact-check.

    The two teams were both given the same budget, and it was up to them how it was spent. The women’s team opted to go for cheaper seats, the men’s team didn’t.

    There’s no discrimination going on here.

    • July 28, 2012 at 4:28 am —

      Argh, really sorry – I should have checked my facts a bit more. I will remove that link. The similar story about the Japanese team seems to actually be true, and while it can practically be chalked down to the fact the men’s team are all professionals while the women are semipro or amateur, it still raises the question of the gap between men’s and women’s sports.

  5. July 27, 2012 at 1:12 am —

    I usually don’t go out of my way to watch sports (and not owning a television myself, I’d have to go rather far out of my way) but hey, if I’m visiting family and they have it on I may check out some events.

    Mostly I just wanted to say that video you posted is *hilarious*

  6. July 27, 2012 at 9:32 am —

    I watch a tonne of sport, usually Australian-rules (winter) or Association football (summer here), cricket and basketball too sometimes, but those sports are in terminal declines.

    I generally enjoy the olympics and I don’t care at all about the “over-commercialised” nature of it. The only thing that offends me is the way the games tend to impose themselves upon a city/country instead of just working with whats there already or achievable without resorting to legalised theft. I feel the same way about the FIFA world cup too, (and in some cases elite sport in general. The amount of government cash wasted there is astounding. )

    The lasting legacy of the olympics is nothing but debt and a few stadium. The ones from Sydney 2000 still get used, particularly the main stadium, I was also in Sydney a couple of weeks ago to go to an Aussie-rules game at what was the olympic baseball stadium (Sydney showgrounds), but that area is so incredibly empty and sterile that it’s impossible to see how it could be a net gain for the city.

    • July 28, 2012 at 1:23 am —

      Basketball? Terminal decline? What are you on?

      Nobody in their right mind could ever suggest the NBA is in decline.

      The NBL cops a fair bit of flack, but most flack-givers are just ignorant. Since the restructuring of the league in 2009, TV ratings and attendance has increased every year, including a 700% TV ratings jump upon the move to FTA.

      Last season’s TV deal wasn’t great, but this season there will be a game at 9.30 on ONE on a Friday night – a fair few will be Perth games going live to the Eastern States – and a live game at 2PM Eastern on Ten. In addition to that, the NBL and individual clubs now have the right to sell the games ONE/Ten won’t broadcast, meaning Fox, Seven, Nine, or online streaming may have other games.

      Game three of the grand final series last season was one of the most-watched NBL games ever – yes, including the late 80s/early 90s – and quite possibly the single most-watched NBL game not broadcast into China.

      The NBA is fine. The NBL hasn’t been in a better position in decades, and is on the way up.

      • July 28, 2012 at 12:32 pm —

        By basketball, I was talking about the NBL not the NBA, ( which I’ve enjoyed to an extent, but don’t have the same investment as the local league, ) which is not at any risk of not existing. Much the same could be said about the european and international game too.

        If “Terminal Decline” is inaccurate for the NBL, then its only because it’s already hit rock bottom*.

        For as long as I have been old enough to remember, basketball and soccer have been in a competition for most mismanaged sport in Australia. The NBL used to be fully professional and sell out 15k+ stadiums, now it is semi-professional and last season had no crowds over 10k and only 7 over 7k, 4 of which were finals in New Zealand. The loss of another team recently would suggest tha competition isn’t on the rebound.

        *of interest to skeptics is an event that precipitated the collapse of the old guard of the NBL. The collapse of the Sydney Kings which was caused by their exposure to the unravelling of the Firepower scam.

        • July 29, 2012 at 8:36 am —

          The Blaze were horribly mismanaged, it had nothing to do with the league whatsoever. It was a horribly-run organisation, and the NBL kicked them out because they couldn’t get their act together.

          The reason no crowds were over 10k is there are no buildings in use in the NBL that can *hold* that many people. NZ could easily get 10k to a game if they could fit, and Perth should push that number regularly this season now that they’ve managed to get out of their shitty 4,500-seat stadium.

          Even aside from that, and with Challenge Stadium’s capacity dragging down attendance averages (they already have more *season members* than they had seats prior to this coming season), attendance, TV ratings and sponsorships have gone up massively in the past three years.

          No, it’s not at the heights it was in the 80s/90s, but as I said before game three of the grand final this season was watched by more people than even games in that era. The AFL didn’t even *exist* the last time the NBL was in a better position than this.

          Things were horrible in 08/09/10. They’ve since picked up tremendously, and the league is in a fantastic position, particularly considering where they’ve come from.

          • July 29, 2012 at 10:55 am

            I’ll believe the sport is on the up when I see the results.

            “The AFL didn’t even *exist* the last time the NBL was in a better position than this.” At least you seem informed enough to know the difference between Australian Rules Football (the name of a sport) and AFL (not the name of a sport) and therefore must be somewhat intelligent. 😉

          • July 29, 2012 at 1:57 pm

            Which results would you like? Since the reform prior to the 2009/10 season:
            Attendance: Up 20% (again, this number would be higher were NZ and Perth not playing in such small buildings)
            TV: Acquired LIVE free-to-air coverage for the first time in a decade. Live games on Channel Ten (not Eleven or One) on Sunday arvos this season.
            Licensing sales: Up 298%
            Website hits: Growing by about 50% a year
            TV Ratings: Increased 700% with the move to free-to-air, have increased every year since.

            Is it where it was in the 80s? Hell no. It probably never will be. Is it in the best position achievable? Probably not. But there is simply no way you can look at the numbers and claim it’s on the way down. It’s quite clearly on the way up.

            I’m also curious as to how you claim it’s semi-professional now, and was truly professional in the 80s/90s. The reverse is true.

  7. July 27, 2012 at 8:53 pm —

    I feel sorry for the brits who will have to pick up the check for this circus.

    Your analysis on corporatism during the olympics was wonderful.

    Other than that…

    Is it a coincidence that the thing that gets the most tv ratings is the opening ceremony? Is the opening ceremony the essence of the olympic games?

    What about the athletes? I bet they ALL get a certain mixture of dope just some are lucky and don’t get tested and some use a mixture that’s currently undetectable or for some reason accepted. :S Is this what athleticism is about?

    The worst thing though is the glorification of nationalist sentiment. Flags everywhere, national anthems etc etc. I mean why not let it be all about the athletes and the sports? Meh.

    • July 28, 2012 at 4:36 am —

      Thank you! I agree with all your points. I’ve never really been able to understand patriotism and nationalism in general, but particularly with regards to sports. If someone who happened to be born in my country can run a bit faster than everyone else, how is that supposed to make the rest of us well up with national pride? (Oh, and singing “God Save The Queen” is a bit pointless for me on a couple of levels :P)

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