It is not news that media tends to over exaggerate and sensationalize news events. Drama sells, pure and simple. Reality television, which has no semblance of real life on this planet, continuously trumps (no pun intended) news shows and other programming. People are focusing on our presidential nominees’ infatuation with the music of 80’s icon ABBA, and hasty consumption of waffles, but not how their policies will shape our futures.
So is it media propaganda or justified criticism that surrounds the upcoming 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China?
Well, it was announced this morning that preferred food vendors in China will not be serving dog, or what they call “fragrant meat”, during the 16-days of the Games. Although I could never imagine feasting on Fido, that is their culture and not ours. Other cultures scoff at our cattle consumption, so would hamburgers be off the menu at an American Olympic event?
Do all athletes use drugs to compete? No, but if you were to listen to the news solely for your information, you would believe steroids were distributed like energy bars to athletes. In fact, the International Olympic Committee has promised to administer around 4,500 drug tests at the 2008 Games, which is a 25 percent increase from those used at the 2004 Athens Games. They have a zero tolerance policy, and they spend a lot of marketing dollars to promote a healthy and drug-free lifestyle to the world’s youth.
Now that we have discussed man’s best friend and illegal substances, let’s move to something less controversial. We have all hear how human rights are being trampled on and disregarded in Tibet. This is subject to viewpoints, and I will not get into it, but it’s a main stage of the Olympic dog and pony show (again, no pun intended). It has been the 2008 springboard for activists to riot and protest the Olympics.
As the Olympic torch passed through the continents, it was met with hostility and rage. The Olympic torch has traditionally been a symbol of peace between the continents. How does a symbol of love and brotherhood get met with a myriad of protests, crime, and hate? 2008 is not the first time the torch has been met with criticism- many saw the torch as a means of promoting Nazi ideology at the 1928 Berlin Olympics. This year, Taiwan rejected a visit from the torch because they did not want the torch downgrading their sovereignty by coming from ‘third party country’ and continuing to mainland China, who they consider a ‘fourth party country’.
Do most people around the world see the torch as a symbol of hatred and bigotry? No- many remember that the Olympics are meant to unite the world as one for a celebration of dreams coming true, sportsmanship and culture. Remember the mysticism in 1996 when Carl Lewis, USA, became the third person to win four consecutive titles in his event, the long jump. Or, look at Bob Mathias, USA, who in 1948 London Olympics became the youngest athlete to win the Olympic decathlon. Incredibly, he took up the decathlon earlier that same year at the advice of his high school coach who recognized his potential. Instead of letting the media represent the Olympics as a worldwide tour of tension, pain and hate, let’s demand that they refocus their attention on the passion of the athletes, the miracles that never cease to amaze, the beauty of the host country, and the pure reminder that “anything is possible”.