Can the Olympics Really Bring Nations Together?
There's a good quick piece in New York magazine this week that answers the question in the negative. Actually, the writer Jason Zengerle goes a little further, asking why we bother with the Olympics at all. For one, they're full of obscure sports no one really cares about playing or watching, and second, the idea that they're about more than just sports-the old "Olympics as a way to bridge the gap between nations" idea-is completely absurd. He writes:
...when was the last time any country-much less a non-state actor like Al Qaeda-honored the so-called "Olympic Truce" by ceasing their Predator strikes or suicide bombings? Indeed, the only worldwide sporting event that has ever proven capable of ending wars (at least temporarily) is the World Cup, but that's because soccer requires no affirmative action. People just like playing it and watching it. In other words, warring factions in Africa and the Middle East have laid down their arms during the World Cup because they wanted to watch soccer rather than fight. Alas, that's not something you'll ever be able to say about the bobsleigh.