Monday Discovery: Mind the Gap

Today’s Monday Discovery: A new series of writing challenges at WordPress called Mind the Gap. WordPress will choose a topic each week that’s trending in the news and issue a challenge to us bloggers to express our opinions on the issue. The focus of these “Mind the Gap” posts is to get us thinking and writing.

Here’s this week’s Mind the Gap question: Has social media changed how you view the Olympics? You can go over and take the poll and express your opinion there.

Here’s Mine

The title of the challenge, “Mind the Gap,” seems particularly apt for today’s chosen topic. I was not as concerned about social media and the Olympics as I was about the obscene amount of money spent to “put on” the games. All through the opening and closing ceremonies, especially, I couldn’t stop thinking, “My God, how much does this cost?”

I know how important it is for the host country to shine, and Great Britain did that. The games–which are, after all, the focus of the event (or should be)–went almost flawlessly which, considering all that could have gone wrong, is nothing short of miraculous these days. The athletes were astounding in their prowess and in their successful and heartbreaking moments.

Soup Kitchen
Photo credit: Alvis

The Least of These 

Here’s the gap that bothers me, though. According to our local paper this morning, the price tag for this Olympics was $14 billion! I keep thinking about how many empty mouths and scrawny bodies all those billions could feed and clothe. Could the world have done with a little less show and a little more charity?

How about, for every gold medal, a charitable contribution of $25,000 goes to a humanitarian effort in the winner’s home country (that’s what the gold medal winners get–taxable, by the way)? I don’t begrudge the winners their prizes. I just wish for a little more awareness and compassion and in our complicated world.

Think about it . . . Maybe you know of a charitable effort as an outgrowth of the Olympics. If so, educate me. And let me know your opinions here! 

9 thoughts on “Monday Discovery: Mind the Gap

  1. Hmm. When I was training, with a serious eye on the Olympics, it was so much dedication. On the ice at 5am, school and back on the ice at 3:30, supper…bed…repeat, for about 6 of the 14 years leading up to a placement at worlds. Mom paid for everything. There were no sponsors, no commercial endorsement deals, no anything…just hard work and dedication. By the time I was ready for worlds I wanted the pageantry and the spectacle. There is so little reward for 90% of the athletes except for personal achievement. I know London cost 14 bill and Vancouver cost 6 bill, but consider what’s happened in Vancouver. Much more infrastructure was built in Vancouver for community enjoyment, permanent housing solutions for homeless and poverty line families, upgrades of all kinds in transit and energy efficient living, and all of this “forced” by the Olympics. I wonder, without the Olympics, how long some of these wonderful concepts would have taken, if ever. I was also thinking that perhaps the 14 bill for a population of 8 million or the 6 bill for a population of 4 million or the correlation of money spent vs technology available over time doesn’t even out thru the Olympic history. I guess what I’m trying to say is that maybe the money wasn’t wasted…you know…lining the pocket of some corporate entity. It possibly is now being redistributed to Vancouverites thru more awareness, more tourism and communications, less taxpayers cost for upgrades over the next few years, maybe more prosperity all round. Oh god I do waffle on don’t I? 🙂

    1. No, Veronica, you aren’t waffling at all! This is what I was hoping to see–a conversation about what the Olympics may accomplish outside of the two weeks of events and the cost of hosting. You make such good points here about the “trickle down” effect. I hate to use that term because it’s become so politically charged, but I think it fits here. Good things do happen to host cities and beyond as a result of pouring a lot of money into all the things a city must provide for the Olympics—venues, infrastructure, etc. I also love having your perspective as someone who trained for the Games. (I had no idea that’s part of your personal history; we need to hear more about that!) Thank you so very much for a thoughtful, insightful comment. I hope lots of folks will read it.

  2. hadn’t ever thought of it from that perspective! but i do at least like that these people worked really hard for it. i always hear all those hollywood people being political and think they could put some of their money towards saving the country instead of the president’s public speaking events. guess we all have an opinion, huh? 🙂

    1. Bolton, since I can barely walk and chew gum at the same time, I’m always fascinated by what these athletes can do! I love to watch them. And yes, they do work hard, and they deserve the recognition.

  3. Someone(s) is making huge amounts of money as the result of the spectacle. Like college sports, it’s not the athletes or truly the colleges that see the bulk (if any) of the monetary transactions that take place. That more folks don’t question it, I believe, is a sign of our social values. Bread or Circuses? We choose the latter.

  4. Some people who win Gold Medals train forever with very little money; they need the money just to sustain themselves. Their winning helps their country’s spirits and this achievement, people struggling to do well in sports affects younger generations with their aspirations. Some of the people, like Gaby from the United States, struggled economically; this will completely change her life and her family’s situation.

    1. I agree; it’s wonderful for all those who get to participate. I’m all for ’em. What bothered me was all that (excessive) pageantry! Cause for celebration, certainly, but it was just so over the top. The opening and closing ceremonies reminded me of a bad halftime show at the Super Bowl.

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