I’ll have this rant and then I won’t mention the Olympics again, unless it really gets on my nerves.
As the Olympics loom over us like a dark cloud of desperation I am forced to wonder exactly what form our national disappointment will take this time round. The embarrassing over-investment in Tom Daley in Beijing meant we had to fall back on our massive medals haul to console ourselves as another plucky Brit failed to, let’s face it, win.
When he doesn’t get gold this time, how will we cope? At a rough guess I’d say the media will manufacture the impression that the nation has taken to its heart some other previously unrecognisable moppet who does something slightly out of the ordinary like wear a funny coloured shirt. This person will then go on to win sports personality of the year (an oxymoron if ever there was one) and appear on Saturday Kitchen, professing to hate garlic.
The worst bit will be the TV and newspapers constantly banging on about how we have fallen in love with someone we’d never heard of before the Olympics. There’ll be features and interviews as well as front page “news” stories about how the nation’s darling has eaten chips or gotten on a bus.
Here are some examples of people the nation has allegedly taken to it’s heart in the past.
In 1988 Eddie the Eagle became famous for being a ski jumper. Seriously that’s all you had to do back then. He also had thick glasses so it looked as if he couldn’t see the end of the ramp. To top it all they were big eighties glasses which looked quite funny. On these simple facts were based thousands of column inches and the insistence that he was interesting. He wasn’t. Since 1995 he has devoted his time to the emerging sport of raft wobbling. He has all his own teeth.
Steve Ovett OBE (the one with the medal round his neck) used to write in the air to his fiancée when he ran. Because there is no way to make the act of watching people run around a track interesting, in any way, the media picked up up on this and told us it was adorable. It wasn’t. He won gold in the 800 metres in 1980. He now lives in a hermitage in Stevenage, with 18 other hermits all called Steve.
Torvill and Dean won gold in 1984 when people apparently hadn’t heard of classical music and Bolero was considered to be a good tune. It isn’t. Because they were pretty much our only chance of a medal that year everybody was ordered to think ice dancing was a sport. It isn’t in case you were wondering. Since winning the Olympics they have run a series of highly successful crab-meat emporiums.
In 1972, when we were being told by the TV how much we hated the Russians, for being the evil empire, the media seemed to think it would be a good idea to promote an elfin gymnast to the status of little darling. The sole basis for this was that she was small. God knows it’s more interesting than people walking on beams and jumping about randomly. After the 1972 Olympics Olga went to the Volga and got fat on Bulgar wheat.
Obviously I am being facetious to make a point but I seriously think the media just makes out that everyone loves these people when in fact nobody gives a damn about any of them.
If you work for a news organisation and you read this can you please not to write these stories any more. Don’t try to convince us that someone is interesting because they have a slightly different hair cut or a strong regional accent or a cheeky grin or tweet while they are running or “tell it like they see it”. Write something interesting about the Olympics because being intrinsically dull it’s going to need all the help it can get.
Here’s an idea, you could write about how we did brilliantly last time but it cost quite a bit. Instead of spending money nurturing athletes this time we sunk it all into the infrastructure of the actual games. An analysis of that would be interesting. That or a national poll which discovers most of us couldn’t care less about all the running and jumping.