As an army of volunteers, half the actual army and a multitude of various vested interest groups head homeward from East London, the realisation that the last two weeks have been nothing more than an orgy of self-congratulatory flag waving and ego massaging slowly begins to dawn on a population addicted to circuses, whether they be the precocious pontificating of premiership players or the multimillionaire pilots of Formula One. The difference, of course, is this particular circus was staged by the State to placate the masses and gain adoration for our masters. Regardless of whether you actually enjoy paying to watch South Koreans grapple with Columbians on a wrestling mat or are happy to pay £700 for a ticket to see horses dancing, when the State decides to put on a spectacle for the benefit of the people, you’d better sober up quickly because the bill is about to arrive.
Now I’m no great friend of sport – the only reason the British invented so many types of it was they had nothing to do all day after carting half of Africa off to do all the real work in the sugar plantations – but each to their own. I know people who are happy to fork out £600 a year to sit glued to a TV screen watching Sky Sports footballers with the IQ of a poached egg. I drink with people who are happy to spend a fortune to watch a go kart on steroids hurtle around a concrete oval for two hours without ever overtaking but that is their choice, with their money. What I resent is being asked..nay…forced to pick up the bill for something I want nothing to do with. Not to detract from the Athletes, many of whom I hold in the highest respect for their sheer bloody mindedness and determination in achieving their goals, but a quick look in the papers this morning and anyone would think their success was the result of politicians or eating hamburgers. Every vested interest group is validating their meddling and demanding more funding to enable our flag waving egoists to bring home yet more bacon from the Rio games in four years time.
As if any of it actually mattered – pfft.
There will be a variety of totals quoted as the actual sum for the cost of this two week frenzy but for the sake of argument, I’m going to say that the public, the biggest sponsor by a country mile, stumped up around £12 billion, and with a medal total of around 65, were talking a cost of £125 MILLION PER MEDAL. Or if you prefer, every man, woman and child in the UK is now £200 each in debt to finance this parade of the peacocks. The more cynical amongst us (me, basically) are not particularly impressed with the value for money. Certainly, our masters can strut around deeming to look down on us as though they hand out sweets bought with our own pocket monies and the State can pat itself on the back for not permitting evil terrorists to kill us all in our beds as we watched the canoeing by erecting missile batteries on the roofs of our dwellings but what gets my goat the most is that we still cannot reject the mindset that the country with the most medals has someone “won”.
Won what? A brief look at all the past Olympics should tell us that strutting around displaying tail feathers is no measure of anything of value. Jamaica may have the fastest men over 200 metres but living in the ghettos of Kingston, you’d need to be fast on your feet. Whilst Somali athletes hold their gold medals aloft, we’re dropping bombs on as many of their brown children as we can find – in the name of peace and solidarity.
One day, I hope someone decides to take the whole Olympic circus on the road (carbon footprint permitting), just like tennis, football and formula one and removes the levers from the hands of meddling politicians and idiotic nationalists. Spectators will be happy to pay for a ticket, monopolistic sponsors can strip search those who may desecrate their brand, everyone can eat McDonalds and it will have nothing to do with me. They can wear their half a million dollar watches, endorse their airlines and build their cult of instant celebrity without raiding my bank account to do it.
The legacy? Before anyone tells me we have created a generation of world beating athletes, go and take a look at what currently masquerades as our youth. Fat, sallow faced bloaters too idle and stupid to fight an Eastern European for the chance of a job in their own back yard, whilst idolising two bit celebrities who got rich quick exploiting the pointless and shallow existences of the masses – it didn’t escape my attention that most of the musical “stars” featured in yesterday’s closing ceremony didn’t even bother to turn up – and frankly, who could blame them? PS. Mo Farah is available for Panto, book early.