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Maxed Out

The Family’s jewels

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By G.D. Maxwell

"Hain’t we got all the fools in town on our side? And hain’t that a big enough majority in any town?"

Mark Twain, from Huckleberry Finn

Well, I guess we’ll know for sure tomorrow. The foolish, the wise, the hopeful and hopeless, the boosters and the detractors, those who will surely win and those who will surely lose if the universe unfolds one way or the other next July, all have the chance to traipse off to the polls and do the dance of democracy tomorrow.

At least if they live in Vancouver they do.

If you live in Whistler, or Victoria, or Clinton, or Bella Bella or anywhere else in British Columbia you’ll just have to suck it up big boy, Father knows best and you know jack. Call it the pernicious, systemic corrupting influence of an inherently corrupt, undemocratic organization – the International Olympic Committee – if you will, but most of us who will be bankrolling a crapshoot if Vancouver is awarded the 2010 Olympics haven’t been given and never will be given a chance to join the foolish majority. Our voices just don’t count when it comes to the high-stakes decision of wooing the Olympic Family.

Has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? The Olympic Family. Mom and Dad and all the aunts and uncles and grandparents and cousins and brothers and sisters gathered ‘round the global village’s fireplace, selflessly cheering on athletes who have spent their whole lives chasing hundredths of seconds, millimetres of grace, inches of skill for the chance to wear Olympic gold and harvest the crop of corporate sponsorship. The primal warmth of family is a perfect disguise for the greed, dishonesty, payola, doublecrossing, doping, contractual blackmail and social displacement behind the façade. Isn’t that why the Mafia chose it as their organizing unit?

The Olympic Family embraces standup guys like Richard Pound, for years Canada’s lord of the rings. Dick’s a great guy who, despite being both a lawyer and IOC member, is scrupulously honest. So honest he did a bangup job when asked to lead the IOC’s last round of antidoping initiatives. His reward for both honesty and unfailing dedication to cleaning up the games was a kick in the ass by the oily dictator-for-life Juan Antonio Samaranch when it came time for him to finally bow to international pressure and anoint his own replacement.

The Olympic Family also embraces less standup guys like Uday Hussein who is the president of the Iraqi National Olympic Committee. Not that I’m anxious to line up behind Bush Lite and take a gratuitous swipe at Iraq’s ruling family, but Uday is not what you or I would necessarily think of as a nice guy. Or an honest guy. Or a guy we’d like to be stranded on a lifeboat with. But he is a member in good standing of the Olympic Family and barring a regime-changing war by the Great Satan that boots his daddy’s ass out of Iraq, he’ll be roaming our tiny mountain town in 2010 if Vancouver is awarded the Games and we’ll be bending over backwards to make him welcome.

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