Olympics

Let the Games Begin [wheeze]

Are you an Olympian? No, seriously, as you sit there in your comfortable chair—or, as our reader surveys have indicated, on that special seat in the bathroom—are you ready to represent your country competing against the world’s greatest athletes? I can see the doubt in your face, not to mention that thickening middle which suggests a marked dearth of world records. (I also noticed a bottle of Head & Shoulders shampoo to your left. Are we having a little problem?)

If not actually competing in the XXIX Olym­piad—which is Italian for either the 29th or 219th Olympics—then at least you’re doing your patriotic duty by watching this year’s Games on television, cheering on the U.S. teams as they compete in China, where the air is thick with anticipation, not to mention car exhaust and industrial pollution, which, depending on your perspective:

• make the city’s air almost unbreathable, or

• to quote the Beijing Chamber of Commerce, “it’s not smog, it’s a lavender twilight that whispers, ‘Take off that surgical mask my love, romance is in the air.’” (If U.S. athletes don’t bring home the gold at least they’ll return with headaches and shortness of breath. Win or lose, they’ll always have their X-rays.)

Air quality aside, China should be commended for emerging from decades of totalitarianism to finally join the family of nations, bringing together the varied cultures of the world, and then TOTALLY kicking their butts in ping-pong. And regardless of the athletic outcomes of the games, China’s generous actions as host will long be remembered in the words engraved on the Olympic torch, words that eloquently capture the true spirit of international competition: “Tibet Is Ours. (And the Dalai Lama is a Poopie Head.)”

Read the Full Article

Sojourners Magazine September/October 2008
​You've reached the end of our free magazine preview. For full digital access to Sojourners articles for as little as $2.95, please subscribe now. Your subscription allows us to pay authors fairly for their terrific work!
Subscribe Now!

China Bars Olympian and Darfur Activist from Attending Summer Games

Looks like Joey Cheek -- a winter Olympics medalist who co-founded the organization Team Darfur to protest the genocide incited by the regime in Khartoum -- will not be going to Beijing in support of the Team Darfur athletes about to compete in the Olympics. China, which buys Sudan's oil and often runs interference for the Khartoum regime in the U.N. Security Council, has revoked Cheek's visa and told him to stay out.

But, to paraphrase Matthew 15, it's not what goes into [...]

Carrying The Torch

In January, I was nominated to be one of the Torchbearers for the Olympic Torch Relay when it came to San Francisco. The theme for the relay in San Francisco was sustainability and caring for our Mother Earth. Part of the nomination process included writing an essay about how I have been involved in caring [...]

A Combustible Mix

It feels "normal" again in Atlanta, whatever that means. The Goodyear blimp no longer floats over my house five times a day, and there's more in the news than the latest celebrity sighting in a trendy restaurant or the newest person to try dancing the Macarena on International Boulevard. The Olympics have come and gone.

I attempted to get to Centennial Olympic Park only once -- drawn, I suppose, by a journalist's curiosity (or just plain human nature) to see the place where "The Bomb" had gone off a week before. About 9:30 in the evening, a friend and I were in a sea of humanity creeping toward the park. New security measures were in place, and movement was extremely slow. We got about 30 yards from the entrance when word was passed through the crowd that there was another bomb. "There's a suspicious package," somebody said. "They've brought in a bomb-sniffing dog," someone else added. We decided to keep pressing on until we got a definitive word.

The definitive word came quickly: two police officers on horseback, blowing shrill whistles and waving the crowd back while the horses paced swiftly at its forward edge. The task was daunting, as they tried to turn back a mass of humanity that stretched for blocks. Parents pushing strollers or carrying children on their shoulders reacted quickly. A knot of beer-drinking young men made a joke about terrorists, then threw their fists into the air and chanted "Party! Party!" A man behind us started yelling in a panic, "Move! Move!" There was a moment when the crowd surge bordered on mayhem, and it was easy to understand how stampedes get started.

Read the Full Article

Sojourners Magazine November-December 1996
​You've reached the end of our free magazine preview. For full digital access to Sojourners articles for as little as $2.95, please subscribe now. Your subscription allows us to pay authors fairly for their terrific work!
Subscribe Now!

Live from Mt. Olympus

The Atlanta Summer Olympics descended upon media-mad America like a vast mind-numbing, soul-sapping fog. The Olympic telecast, in any season, is like the Deep South heat so much discussed at the Atlanta games: It is there, and it won't go away. Mere mortals are powerless over it.

The other Leap Year staples—the Democratic and Republican political conventions—were once like this, too. The coverage was gavel-to-gavel and wall-to-wall for at least four days per party on all three networks; even political junkies got sick of it. Now the conventions get, maybe, an hour of prime-time per night. This is all part of an inexorable process that will lead to the banning of all not-for-profit activities by the year 2020.

The word from the sales department is that politics doesn't pay, at least not over the counter, in public. So the conventions are off the screen. There is no commercial payoff to Jefferson's ideal of an informed and enlightened electorate. Like all other values without price, that ideal is out the window in the Free Market Era.

The Olympic Games used to carry an aura of unsightly non-profit, touchy-feely ideals. The Games were inherited from the ancient Greeks. Every four years their best athletes climbed to the home of the gods, Mt. Olympus, to offer the finest of human performance.

The Games were revived at the turn of this old century with a lot of mush about international brotherhood and something called "amateurism." That was supposed to mean running the race or playing the game for the pure love of it. Excellence for its own sake and perfecting a skill simply for the joy of a job well done were suitable goals.

Read the Full Article

Sojourners Magazine September-October 1996
​You've reached the end of our free magazine preview. For full digital access to Sojourners articles for as little as $2.95, please subscribe now. Your subscription allows us to pay authors fairly for their terrific work!
Subscribe Now!

Olympic Meddle

It may be the most creative thing that’s ever happened in Woodruff Park in downtown Atlanta. Eight members of the Open Door Community (with a little help from their friends) carried toilets into the park and stationed themselves upon them. Others of us surrounded them with placards declaring “Pee for Free With Dignity” and “Outhouses for People Without Houses.

We got a few stares from the downtown lunch crowd. Some passersby laughed. But we were there to draw attention to something that is far from a laughing matter. In 1994, the city government promised to install 25 public toilets in downtown Atlanta. In the two years since, none has appeared. And every day, more and more homeless people are being arrested and spending time in jail for public urination. As Rev. Murphy Davis of the Open Door put it, the policy is “stupid and mean-spirited.” In six months, she says, the city could have paid for public facilities instead of “flushing public funds down the toilet by locking people up.”

Such arrests aren’t new, but they are being stepped up in a concerted effort to create a “vagrant-free zone” in Atlanta during the upcoming Olympics. New ordinances seem to be as numerous these days as official Olympic sponsors and Coca-Cola souvenirs. Among the most controversial laws is one making it illegal to walk across a parking lot in which you do not have a car parked.

The effort is aided by pith-helmet-wearing, walkie-talkie-toting “goodwill ambassadors,” hired by downtown businesses to alert police to “trouble”—and by a new eight-story, $67 million jail. Homeless people who would prefer not to spend the ’96 Games behind bars are being offered a free, one-way ticket out of town. Project Homeward Bound will send any homeless person anywhere on a bus, provided they promise never to return to Atlanta.

Read the Full Article

Sojourners Magazine July-August 1996
​You've reached the end of our free magazine preview. For full digital access to Sojourners articles for as little as $2.95, please subscribe now. Your subscription allows us to pay authors fairly for their terrific work!
Subscribe Now!

Pages

Subscribe