I offer my readers my apology for missing some days in the last week. My mother in law passed away last week. Because my wife and I have known each other since 1963, I have had a long term relationship with her mom. She was as fine a lady and as good a person as has ever lived and she will be missed by all of us that loved her.
I mention this because she grew up in pre-war Germany. She was an athlete in Nazi Germany and was part of Hitler’s youth sports program. She told me about the combination of sports and political indoctrination that were equal parts of the program.
The 1932 Olympics were one of the most political games in that event’s history. She was a swimmer but was too young to be part of the Olympic team but saw her older friends pushed to the physical and mental brink and beyond to prove a political point. We all know how that story ended, but the point here is that the athletes paid the price to attempt to prove the validity of a mad man’s theory.
She also talked about the inept management of the program because it was run by political hacks rather than sports management experts. The athletes were the ones that paid the price for the waste and stupidity of politicians running the program.
Politics raised its ugly head again during the cold war. The US refused to send a team to the games in the USSR as a political statement against the actions of that government. The following games were boycotted by the USSR and its satellite countries because the games were in the US. The governments didn’t win or lose anything by their childish actions. The people that did lose the most were those men and women that had worked so hard for many years to be ready to participate in the games. Those athletes gave up their lives to prepare to participate in the Olympics and were then forbidden to go by a politician with a 4 year old mentality.
Those athletes that did participate lost as well. Because many of the world’s best athletes were from the countries that refused to participate, the metals that were won in those games were tainted. The winners realized that they had won against less than the best the world could have offered.
With the breakup of the Soviet block, we were able to see the price that individuals paid for the political aims of their governments. Steroids were a major part of the attempt by the Communists to win metals. The men and women that were forced to take them have suffered the consequences for the rest of their lives.
The most recent summer games in China showed another aspect of politics interfering with sports. Thousands of people were forced out of their homes to make room for the sports venues required by the games. Hundreds of others were jailed to eliminate the chance of demonstrations against the government. Given the political ineptness of the Olympic committee, I would not be surprised if the next site chosen will be either North Korea or Iran.
If the Olympics are going to survive, the site selections must consider politics. The games must be held in countries that can avoid political and social consequences. Until that happens, you can count me out of those that have interest in the games.
That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.
Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .