Olympic Colors on Full Display
by Gustavo Santa Ana
It’s been a week since the 2012 Summer Olympics opened in London with an elaborate celebration of the city’s history and contributions to the world. This is an exciting time – at least for me anyway. Anyone who knows me can attest to the fact I am an avid consumer of all kinds of sports. Few things get me going like a heated table tennis match at 7AM or a shooter missing one clay disc in 100 attempts.
So with a week in, what have I enjoyed most about the Games of the XXX Olympiad? Answer: Many medals, won by a variety of athletes in many different events.
Why? Glad you asked (or that I asked for you).
It goes to show that sports are not exclusively dominated by a particular race or ethnicity. Countries? Perhaps, but more so because certain nations have a history in an event which translates to a dedication of resources and more skilled and/or better trained athletes.
Does the USA Men’s Basketball team dominate the competition? Yes. But not because African-Americans are the best basketball players in the world – last I checked Larry Bird was Caucasian. The Dream Team dominates because they’ve had a very proud basketball tradition and were cultivating basketball players while the rest of the world played soccer – inversely explaining why Brasil is a soccer powerhouse and an underdog in basketball. Not to mention the fact that the Seleção has had phenomenal players of every shade in the color spectrum. Jamaicans triumph in track, Asians excel in Badminton, and Kenyans and Ethiopians rule long distance running because those are popular sports in those countries. Kids grow up wanting to be good at those events. But not all Jamaicans are Usain Bolt, or a track star waiting to be discovered.
The Olympics is a stereotype-eradicating spectacle on full display to over 1 billion people. Try to notice how many times a medal recipient surprises you during these games. It really is quite an eye-opening experience. Hopefully people like Greek Triple Jump Champion Voula Papachristou can eventually appreciate the Olympics for more than just the sporting event it is staged as, and instead as a chance to further educate us all in the fallacy of stereotyping.