Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Are the actual Olympic games the sideshow?

Full disclosure: I've paid very little attention to the Summer Olympic games which have been taking place in London over the past couple of weeks.

Nevertheless, I remain fascinated how the competition amongst amateur athletes from around the globe inevitably elicits political and/or cultural opinions. Then again, political tensions often seem to have intruded (if not completely overshadowed) the Olympics, whether it was the "Munich massacre" in 1972, the United States boycotting the 1980 Summer games in Moscow in protest of the Soviet Union invading Afghanistan or the Russians playing turnabout by eschewing the '84 Summer games in Los Angeles.

The 2012 games have proven to be no exception when it comes to political and cultural statements.

-For some inexplicable reason, Olympic officials declined to allow a moment of silence to pay homage to the Israeli athletes who were slain by a Palestinian terrorist group in Munich forty years ago. Ah, but that didn't deter American gymnast Aly Raisman, who is Jewish, from giving her own personal tribute, specifically the musical score used in her gold medal-winning performance.

The 18-year-old said choosing Hava Nagila — a traditional score used for wedding dances and bat mitzvah — was a response to the International Olympic Committee’s failure to mark the 40th anniversary of the tragedy.

And for Aly, from Needham, Massachusetts, she said it made her gold even more special.

‘I can only imagine how painful it must be for the families and close personal friends of the victims,’ she said.

-From the sublime to the ridiculous, there was a flap over the hairstyle of Gabby Douglas, another American gold medal winning gymnast.

After her victory, she reportedly logged online to find that people were mocking her pulled-back bun. “I don’t know where this is coming from,” she told the Associated Press. “What’s wrong with my hair? I’m like, ‘I just made history and people are focused on my hair? It can be bald or short, it doesn’t matter about (my) hair.” She continues: “Nothing is going to change. I’m going to wear my hair like this during beam and bar finals. You might as well stop talking about it.”

Now, Fashionista interviews Douglas' mother, Natalie Hawkins, about the controversy. "We made a huge joke out of it and I was quick to try to diffuse that situation. Because I thought, “How ignorant is it of people to comment on her hair and she still has more competitions to go," she said. "Are you trying to ruin her self confidence? She has to go out there and feel good about herself, and if she feels good about herself on that floor, who are YOU to criticize her?"

Hawkins, who famously allowed Douglas to move to Iowa to train at age 14 (and live with a host family), explained further: "She lives with a white host family and they don’t know anything about taking care of her hair. And there’s no black salons in their area [in Iowa]–not one. We had to work really hard to find a stylist to come and do her hair."

-Finally, hurdler Lolo Jones, who turned 30 this past Sunday, has openly professed her decision to remain celibate until marriage. Throughout this Summer's games, Jones has often shared her faith via Twitter, proclaiming that winning a medal isn't her top priority, rather it's to honor God by continuing to give Him all the glory.

"I never have prayed to win a gold medal at Olympics and never will. The Lord is my Shepard and I shall not want. May His will be done."

Whether you agree or disagree with the worldview of any Olympic athlete, there's no denying that having the rapt attention of tens of millions of people worldwide allows their respective viewpoints to be driven home effectively.


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