By G.D. Maxwell
The Scene: A sunny winter afternoon, Dustys Smokin Joint, base of Whistler Mountain
Socrates: And still, you seem troubled over... over what, a game?
Max: Were it but a game. The Olympics are far beyond mere games, old man. This is commerce, first and foremost. Commerce, politics, and far, far after those more weighty considerations, it is sport, although even that may be elevating its real status. Its hard to tell whether the Olympics, in any way beyond the words of the Olympic Philosophy, has nearly as much to do with sport for sports sake or sport as a means to an end.
Soc: Which end is that?
Max: Wealth. Power. Sponsorship. Commercial endorsement. Celebrity. The pursuit of easy street in a world bereft of participation but long on voyeurism, a television world where a growing segment of the population has lost the distinction between doing sport and watching sport.
Soc: And who are you to deny them their pleasures?
Max: If thats their pleasure, I wouldnt dream of denying it to them. I only wonder about the legitimate role of government in sponsoring a world of lethargic spectators.
Soc: But your modern Olympics, if it is anything, is a model of private enterprise, corporate sponsorship, private money. Isnt it?
Max: Youve been drinking too much hemlock, dude. The private sector may be where the profits flow, but the public sector bears the risk. And the public sector primes the pump to make it all happen. A couple of decades ago, right after some wise guy came out with a finding that the average 30 year old Canadian had about the same physical fitness as a 70 year old Swede with one lung and a broken leg, the government revved up a program called Participaction. Its sole purpose was to get Canucks off their expanding butts and out into what we like to think of as our heritage the great outdoors.
Soc: Im probably going to need another beverage. This sounds like a long rant coming up. What do you know about this subject?
Max: To use your own words, I know nothing except the fact of my own ignorance. Well, that and the fact the government now cant scrape a few bucks together to keep the program going notwithstanding the fact the average 30 year old Canadian is now about as fit as a dead Swede.
Soc: These are hard times. Were you going to buy the next round?