Oh I love the games! Thanks to my schedule, I have been able to enjoy four channels of Olympic bliss.
And I believe the Olympics bring the best out of all of us. We cheer for our country and hope to see athletic greatness.
And, like the ancient Greeks, we try to put our differences aside for a few weeks. The original Olympics started in 776 B.C. and ended in 393 A.D. after the Christians decided to end all pagan festivals. Although there were exceptions, the city states of Greece put aside their differences and came together to compare their best athletes. And they partied a lot. The fact that these groups could put aside very bloody feuds to celebrate the games demonstrates the value this event had on the polis.
Call me an idealist, but I like that idea.
But then I watch advertisement after advertisement on NBC’s coverage from political candidates saying that the other person is the source of all evil. Mitt Romney, it appears, wants to buy your business, sell it off to Iran and marry your daughters. Barack Obama, on the other hand, wants to take every cent you have out of your bank account to give to a homeless guy. And he might eat a baby or two in the process.*
Nevada has a very contentious Senate race between incumbent Dean Heller and Congresswoman Shelly Berkley. Heller, it seems, wants to end Medicare and Berkley’s only interest in government is supporting an industry that her husband is part of.
NBC has the choice to reject political advertising during the games. But a large piece of the advertising revenue pie for networks is during major political cycles. While I would like to see NBC show an altruistic nature and turn away political advertising during the games, I understand that money pays the bills. But that doesn’t mean I like it.
Why, during a time when our nation and the world around us come together to celebrate the human spirit, sportsmanship and good citizenship, do our candidates insist on creating division? I want to enjoy the games and all of the joy and drama that go with them. Frankly, for two weeks this summer, I don’t care about politics. There’s plenty of time left for all candidates to make their case. Please leave my soccer games, diving competitions and gymnastics alone. The Olympics are civil. Spewing political venom in commercials during the Olympics demonstrates just how much contempt politicians have for the games and our desire to celebrate humanity.
And I think if political candidates agreed to not advertise during the Olympics, they would give the people a shining example of citizenship.
Copyright 2012 Paul George
* I may be exaggerating a little, but just a little.