Tokyo Damage Report

Improving the Olympics: some thoughts.



So it’s Olympics time again.
Every time I see that shit, I think the same thing: All these little countries that are never going to win anyway, why don’t they just show some balls?  Why don’t they ADMIT ‘ok, we’re not gonna win’ . . .. and then  do a stunt that will make people remember them long after people have forgotten the generic, clean-cut gold-medallers? Like Qatar. What the fuck is Qatar going to win at the fucking ice Olympics? They have nothing to lose! The figure-skater dude should straight-up go on the ice and do The Worm. Use NAKED CITY for their theme tune. Or Brazil. Brazil is famous for a lot of shit, but not for skating. They’re tropical. Fuck it, man! What if the skater from Brazil wore one of those huge-ass Carnivale heads, and their whole figure-skating performance consisted of immediately accelerating full speed into the judges’ table and ramming the Plexiglas wall with the Carnivale head? THAT’s entertainment. Peru could put a lama in the luge! Get down! Or the chick from – I dunno, Thailand? You know Thailand has never won a fuckin’ speed-skate medal and never will. Why doesn’t the Thai chick just get drunk as fuck and skate in everyone else’s lane and see how many women she can knock over. What’s the worst that could happen? She could lose? 
There’s another whole Olympics right there: Drunk Olympics. Athletes who failed the drug test would be disqualified. Get people who are in top shape and then drug them up til they could barely stand, and then make them run hurdles. Give some couples-skaters PCP – watch them claw at each other. 
Back to my point: everyone’s so serious at the Olympics, it’s kind of sad. Seems like every country that ever hosted the olympics had to pay a fat bribe to the olympic committe, and then that country has to spend like a billlion dollars making some stadiums that usually are never used afterwards. and these atheletes train for like 4 years 24/7, just for a contest that is over in like 30 seconds.  And if you are not the first , second, or 3d best person in the whole world, then you are just  a worthelss failure who wasted 4 years. Who needs it?
The most unfair thing, though, is how – every fucking time – the big countries have more medals just because they got a bigger population of athletes to choose from. 
Think about it: if one in a million people is a natural speed demon, America has 100 million people, china has a billion, but what about fucking Laos? What about Uruguay? It’s fucked up, man. And yet they’ll disqualify someone for taking a little growth hormone or having a 3 inch clitoris, because THAT’S unfair to the other athletes?!? Fuck that noise.
What they OUGHT to do is pick 100 people from each country at random – like some WILLIE WONKA type deal where if you buy the lucky candy bar with the gold ticket you can represent your country at the olympmics.  Not only would that be the only fair way, it would also be educational! It would give viewers around the globe a more accurate idea of what each country was REALLY LIKE. . . .
Instead of 7-foot sculpted superhumans, the American team would be all 300 pounders with tent-sized Sarah Palin t-shirts and half of them would be disqualified because they tested positive for meth. All walking the hundred-yard dash while checking their text messages.   All doing the bike races in a Disneyland fat-cart. With a “darwin sucks” bumper sticker on the back. The only people who might possibly win us a gold would be recent immigrants, which would give Fox News a schizophrenic breakdown. Which is just another good reason to do it.
God knows what the Russian team would look like. 
On the other hand, the small countries’ teams would probably win half the golds. Japan is a special case – Japanese people are way healthier and skinnier than most countries and the schools have a super strict PE thing going. . . but at the same time every family has negative point five kids and the average population is much older than any other country, so it’s a toss-up if they’d dominate the Random Olympics. The team would be a bunch of super-patriotic grandmas and grandpas chugging genki drinks, wearing SARS masks. They’d do group calesthenics for 13 hours before the event and then fall asleep at the starting gun.
But here’s the thing, yo: this doesn’t have to be just a throwaway internet gag. The little countries vastly outnumber big countries. Why don’t they fuckin’ put it to a vote? They have the power! Let’s get it on! Peru! Sri Lanka! Madagascar! Ecuador! Abdadknzzkhstan! I’m talking to you!
On a more serious note, though – what about the children? One of the bummer things about Olympics is how hard people train – 12 hours a day for 4 years. Everyone feels sorry for the 12 year old gymnast girls with these sadistic, predatory coaches that control every second of their lives . But I feel the same creepy feeling about ALL olympics dudes/dudettes. Because if they’re stuck with a bad coach, they can’t get out. Picture someone training for 3 years and then saying, “You know what? Fuck this. I’m going to start a kite store.” That never happens, because you know why? Nobody likes to admit that they wasted 3 years slaving away for some dogmatic nincompoop.
The same principle applies to people who join cults: after you give away your house and your car, how can you admit that  the Baghwan is just some glib-tongued stoner from Hydrabad who gets all his wisdom from Battered wives, that’s another classic. Or fraternities: you know why they have these super grueling initiations? Because after the new guys realize how dumb frats are, they can’t quit because that would mean they endured the hazing for nothing. Graduate students slaving for psycho professors, unable to finish their own work. Where else are they going to go? They’re 28 with no work experience.
It’s like a universal rule of human psychology: the worse you treat someone, the less chance they’ll try to escape. . .PROVIDED that they already invested a lot of time and effort.
My point is, everyone wants to teach children “If you try hard enough, your dreams will come true.” And there’s no shortage of self-important douchebags getting profiled in glossy magazines saying, “I didn’t give up ! I believed in myself! I have a sauna and a jet!”  OK, fine, positive-boy. Nobody wants to think of a disadvantaged child saying, “OK, I’m society’s failure, so fuck it. Pass the glue-bag.”  Nobody likes a lazy rich kid who never tries hard, either.
Kids need to – at some point – spend years studying something they love and getting to be really good at it. 90% of the time this means trusting an authority figure to teach them the thing. The kids at some point will get frustrated and want to quit. And  – here’s the part that nobody talks about – THIS IS TRUE WHETHER THE AUTHORITY IS A DICK OR NOT. If the kids quit the first time they get frustrated, they’ll never get good at anything. . .but if they don’t quit and the coach IS a dick, then they’ll wind up stuck in a point of no return.  So how to tell if the authority figure is a psycho, BEFORE you put in a prohibitive amount of effort?
Put another way, how do you teach the fucking children, “Try hard! But also quit!”
It’s weird – there’s a million self-help books and books on raising self-esteem kids and shit, but NOT ONE PARAGRAPH has been written about the dangers of trying too hard. 


10 comments Tags: ,

10 Comments so far

  1. William February 24th, 2010 8:10 pm

    There’s a difference between quitting the first time you get frustrated, and quitting because you genuinely hate something. Maybe the idea that you can only do well through suffering is just another one of the bullshit dichotomies that exist in the world. A dude at give an excellent talk about the craziness of education –

  2. AnokPanda February 24th, 2010 8:15 pm

    A good lesson is the power of “fuck it, I quit” or to put it another way “I have no regrets for my wasted efforts, but this sucks I want to try something else”. I think punks and non-assholeish-atheists with senses of humor win in this situation. Having nothing to do after death, they realize that if they want to experience life they have to go head on into it (it, being the only life they get), and if what ever they happen to be putting their energy into turns out to be a sucky wasted of time, they know that it’s going to be alright because they will die soon and their particles will return to the universe. -sort of like the living in the moment attitude /slash/ things unrepentant addicts say. This reminds me of why I love the culmination of Yakuza and delinquent stories.

    And Olympics judges give points on style/execution, possibly if you got “style for days” you can get a medal. Not to mention if you go crazy while exposing your culture to the world, you could make your country proud and become a hero there.

  3. sephim February 25th, 2010 3:34 am

    I’m going to teach my kid how to play guitar and I’ll teach three main things – 1) play power chords 2) play them fast and 3) solos suck unless you’re REALLY good at guitar – which he never will be because I’ll be his teacher and I SUCK at guitar.

    And he won’t be allowed to quit because I’m his dad.

  4. Al February 25th, 2010 10:56 pm

    This is perhaps your best blog entry. I take that back. This is perhaps THE best blog entry, ever.

    Well put. Great message. And funny too.

  5. Steve February 26th, 2010 10:37 pm

    I sort of felt the same way about the Olympics until I realized these competitions go on non-stop all, around the world, all the time. The Olympics are just the only time that joe-American gets to watch. Just like the World Cup of soccer.

    Now, as far as grad school is concerned, they actually have a solution in Hong Kong. First you take an MA, which is like a mini-grad school. You do courses and a dissertation, but you aren’t a slave to any professor. You get to know all of the professors in your faculty, and if you really like one of them you can go on to do an MPhil under them, which is like American grad-school (complete with slavery).

    Either way you get a degree and the option to go deeper in a field you want, without investing (wasting?) too much time at each step.

  6. February 27th, 2010 1:52 pm

    The Random Olympics…best idea ever.

  7. Keith McX February 27th, 2010 3:49 pm

    Good post!

    Winter sports are expensive to get into as well. Because of this, poor countries can’t send their best athletes in these sports if they have never had the gear nor opportunity to play them. At least with summer Olympics you can be fast, strong, etc. and get recognized in the sport if you are good. IE: African marathon runners from bush tribes.

  8. DW February 28th, 2010 7:35 pm

    Eh. I think the modern Olympics are just kind of weird in general. The ancient Olympics were nothing but insane competition in pursuit of excellence, victory, and glory. The modern games, have tried to meld the whole sharing-and-caring/one-world vibe with that original Olympic spirit. It just makes for an awkward/somewhat contradictory hybrid.

    Also, back in the day, the Olympics made more sense to average person. It measured things that the average person could more easily relate to, because everybody was living a much more physical existence. Foot racing, spear throwing, boxing, wrestling, etc. – these activities were part of the Greek citizen/warriors lives (somewhat more relating to that of the free privileged ones, but still…). Who’s is the fastest citizen?, the strongest citizen?, the toughest citizen?, etc.

    Contrast that with our modern Olypics and all it’s goofy shit like luge and water polo. How am I supposed to judge or appreciate something like, for example, ice dancing? The games become the domain of the small cadres of specialists, pros, and experts who understand them. I guess on some level you can appreciate the dedication it takes to perfect a bunch of random activities. Then again, I find myself asking why and how am I supposed to care?

  9. admin March 1st, 2010 6:10 pm

    @Al: thanks! I appreciate it.

  10. szaszha March 10th, 2010 12:29 am

    "try hard! but also quit!"
    i almost swallowed my cigarette when i read that. this blog is gettin dangerous! 

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