I’m not a huge sports buff as should be painfully obvious to folks by now. So I don’t know if Frank Deford from Sports Illistrated is considered a god among men or not. But I like him on NPR. I think he usually hits the right points and is pleasently opposed to a lot of the PC stuff in professional sports. But I disagreed with him a bit this morning.
I don’t have a transcript, but basically he criticized the notion that our best athletes should feel pressure to compete in the Olympics because of mere patriotism. He made plenty of good points, but one that didn’t fly with me is the idea that the Olympics aren’t supposed to be about patriotism or “jingoism” as he put it.
Of course they are. The Olympics are about other things too. But there’s a reason athletes are divided up by country and not by religion or, say, height. The Olympics were intended in part to be a healthy replacement for war. Now, these days when America is so dominant in so many areas, it might make sense for the US to decline from sending our best basketball and baseball players so as not to trounce other countries at one more thing, but that wasn’t his argument.
Also it’s nice to say the Olympics and sports are about “excellence” and not “patriotism” but if Deford is right about that, how is that an argument against sending our best athletes?