This morning while watching synchronized swimming, I heard something pretty ridiculous from one of the commentators. Now, that in and of itself is nothing surprising, as I can seriously sometimes hardly stomach the drivel that spouts from these moronic commentator's mouths. The Chinese swimmers were in the middle of their routine. The male commentator told a story about how one of the Chinese swimmers asked her Japanese born synchro swimming coach if she could have a weekend off. Baffled, her coach asked her why she wanted the modest vacation. Her reply, "Because I have not seen my family in 12 years."
Because she had been training for 12 years. Because China is nuts.
So what does captain commentating ass say to that? "Now that's dedication."
No. That is not dedication. That is something else entirely. Having been training for 12 years, that would probably put her anywhere from 8-12 years old when she began. Do you think any child that age voluntarily agrees to or feels happy about basically NEVER seeing her family again? I feel like this highlights China's seemingly ruthless willingness to do whatever it takes to look good on a world scale, even if it involves taking children away from their families for years on end.
Earlier in the games, one person commented on how the Chinese coaches had to sign forms promising that they wouldn't allow their gymnasts and other athletes to be injured from being overworked or excessively pushed. Again, there is something wrong with this. It's a little bit sick that that actually had to be dictated. It shows the lack of regard that China has for its athletes on a personal level, and how all that matters is making it to that podium with precious metals gleaming around their necks in the name of the motherland. How much of this sort of thing is going on throughout the world? I sort of feel like children are being exploited for the world's collective entertainment and to promote national salience.
Now, don't get me wrong. I do love the Olympics. I love that, for 20 days or however long, the world really seems to cohere (minus Russia and Georgia) and differences are set aside while personal achievement is collectively celebrated. But I still feel like the question should be raised as to the ethics of some sporting practices. Everyone has been witness to the crazy high school sports parents that are so much more emotionally invested in their children's achievement than the actual athletes. It just makes me wonder, when these Olympic child athletes can perform some of the most unbelievable feats on planet earth, how many of them have been ruthlessly pushed along by their parents. Sure, some of them are winning gold medals, (which would be absolutely amazing) but at what price? Is a childhood lost worth it? What about the complete abandonment of family? I think it's a different scenario entirely when young teenagers find a sports interest and then pursue it to Olympic perfection. But I just wonder how ethical it is to push small children to such extremes. 4 year olds aren't interested in anything. Parents (maybe countries) invest children's tractable minds with interest.
Collectively and as a whole, I think the Olympics are a marvelous event. But I feel like there may be a dark underbelly that goes overlooked due to the general positive feelings that are engendered by so much phenomenal achievement.