Tokyo Olympics 2021 set the euphoric ball rolling and sports fans remained glued to television sets, amid a new kind of frenzied TV reporting.
To tell you the truth, as the news incessantly reports the games to the exclusion of omitting very serious news happening in India, I started to feel uneasy. I support sports and games for physical and mental exercise as well as entertainment. Generating huge boosts for any game is irrelevant and actually damaging, be it cricket, football, hockey, or any other game.
Origin of the Olympic Games
The ultimate goals of the game are to cultivate human beings, bringing in humanity, through sport, and contribute to world peace. Summer Games and Winter Games are held separately.
The ancient Games were staged in Olympia, Greece, from 776 BC through 393 AD, it took 1503 years for the Olympics to return. The first modern Olympics were held in Athens, Greece, in 1896. The man responsible for its rebirth was a Frenchman named Baron Pierre de Coubertin, who presented the idea in 1894. His original thought was to unveil the modern Games in 1900 in his native Paris, but delegates from 34 countries were so enthralled with the concept that they convinced him to move the Games up to 1896 and have Athens serve as the first host.
How goals changed
Over decades, big money rolling into national and international sports and the Olympic Games changed the whole noble dynamics of sports. Cricket in India took new heights and brought in roaring billions with huge stakes behind cricketers. Behind sports and games lurked the lure of money to inequivalent heights.
Commercialism is the backbone now of great athleticism amid the comradeship of great sportspeople all over the globe. The 1984 Games in Los Angeles where they hosted the Games experienced a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow to change their fortunes.
Suddenly, powerful profits poured into cities hosting the Games and thus the process of selecting host cities became politicized amid a darkened backdrop emerging for corruption.
While the Games merged for building humanity and bringing peace to the nations, unfortunately, these goals are hardly worked upon and are quite secondary to the ethos of sports today.
Emerging scandals in games and sports
In late1998, a mega scandal was uncovered when it was discovered that promoters involved with Salt Lake City’s (winning) bid for the 2002 Winter Games had bribed IOC members, who were eventually made to resign; while the Nagano and Sydney bids were also under suspicion of bribery.
Athletes, too, especially in the “glamour sports” such as gymnastics, ice skating, or track and field, can reap tremendous financial gains for winning performances, through product endorsements and personal appearances. Originally, Olympic athletes were expected to remain strictly amateurs and not earn money even for endorsing products.
However, by the last decades of the 20th century, professionalism among competitors received official acceptance, as the IOC finally recognized that many world-class athletes were already functioning as professionals. At the elite level of competition in many Olympic sports, the athlete must devote him- or herself entirely to the sport, all but precluding the holding of a full-time job.
The end of amateurism began in the 1960s in the Communist countries, where top athletes were sponsored by the state but were officially regarded amateurs. To counter this, in the 1970s and 1980s athletes in non-Communist countries sought out corporate sponsors, in effect becoming “employees” of the sponsor.
By the late 1980s, restrictions were eased on athletes earning prize money at their sports, and professional athletes were permitted to represent their countries at the Olympics. This included star athletes who play in the American professional leagues, such as the U.S. basketball “Dream Team” of National Basketball Association superstars who dominated the 1992 Olympic competition. In addition, with IOC rules concerning amateurism vacated, many medal-winning contestants have cashed in on their Olympic fame with product endorsements or performance tours.
Drugs in the game
Driven by the obsessive craze for winning, performance-enhancing drugs were craftily injected into athletes who likewise in their ambition to win lost their ability to lose gracefully. The madness for winning the crown, gold, or any medal jumped all boundary walls and left protocol and ethics despite the risks to future health and the disgrace of getting caught. Because of the glory and prestige added to the country drugs were used even at the risk of getting caught and being disgraced.
The drugs were taken despite the health risks to the athlete and IOC rules prohibiting the use of these substances. The types of drugs banned include stimulants (which can be found in common cold and cough medications; caffeine is also banned), narcotics, anabolic steroids, diuretics, certain hormones (such as human growth hormone), and in some sports, beta-blockers.
While the testing of athletes for drug use began for the Olympics in 1968, at the Mexico City Games, it was not extensive until the 1972 Games. Over the years, as drugs such as human growth hormone have been developed, thus further tests have been added for newer drugs.
There are artists, scientists, doctors, and millions of others who are heavily contributing to great levels of achievement and development each day.
The East German Sports Federation had a shocking systematic program of giving its athletes steroids from 1974 to 1989. During that era, East German women suddenly dominated events such as swimming, winning medals in 11 of 13 events both in 1976 and 1980. Other swimmers suspected that the East German women were using steroids because the drugs affected their physical appearance, but the team was never caught.
Stunningly, after the reunification of Germany, the East German sports federation’s records were opened and the details of the scam were exposed. In 2000, the former head of the federation and the doctor who developed and delivered the drug plan were sentenced for their crimes of regular and overall doping.
Why does not the nation applaud Indian scientists or researchers when they come home from abroad after achieving breakthrough theories?
However, the former athletes report that they never knew they were taking steroids, claiming that they were told that the various medications were vitamins. As drug testing procedures have developed, more athletes have been exposed.
In Seoul, there was suspicion of widespread use of performance-enhancing drugs after Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson tested positive; he was later stripped of his gold medal. In the mid-1990s, China’s female swimmers and runners quickly rose to the top of elite competition, arousing suspicions of drug use; by the late 1990s, many were caught through more diligent drug testing.
A young sportsman is absurdly made a hero as if his/her medal will help develop a nation.
The IOC publicly decries the use of performance-enhancing drugs. However, it is commonly believed that even with out-of-competition testing, the drugs and masking agents available to athletes are far ahead of the tests used to detect these substances.
A study released in September 2000 that was financed by the U.S. government accused the IOC of permitting drug use to persist in order to maintain the mystique of the Olympics and record-breaking performances. The IOC formed the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) in late 1999 to test athletes at the upcoming Olympics and to increase drug testing standards, but how effective WADA will be in the long run is not yet known.
Corruption in cricket
While cricket flourished in India dominating every sport, fading out the national hockey game to oblivion, corruption rose in cricket due to the big bucks it brought.
Though betting on cricket was common in the 19th century, cricket’s biggest match-fixing scandal was unearthed in 2000, when Hansie Cronje admitted he had received money to throw matches. As the scandal unraveled, players from other countries were also charged. Hansie Cronje, a sensitive soul ultimately took his life ashamed by the match-fixing, while other cricketers still lived conscience unmarred, and in denial that there ever was a scam.
Since then, even as cricket has gone about strengthening its anti-corruption mechanisms, instances of fixing have shamelessly cropped up frequently. In 2010, three leading Pakistan players were banned and jailed on fixing charges. In 2013, three Indian players, among them Sreesanth, were arrested for spot-fixing in the IPL.
At the end of the day, over-glorification with the intense glamorization of the Game is absurd. There are artists, scientists, doctors, and millions of others who are heavily contributing to great levels of achievement and development each day.
It raises the question that why does not the nation applaud an Indian scientist or researcher when they come home from abroad after achieving breakthrough theories. Why the hell is a young sportsman made a hero as if his/her medal will help develop a nation!