On the EDge: C’mon kids, we’re counting on you

OPINION – I feel somewhat saved by the Olympics.

It drowned out a lot of political noise, although I am still amused by the loudest headline of last week when Donald Trump warned his thinning herd of followers that the election is going to be rigged.

Look, man landed on the moon, Elvis is dead and there is no secret cabal out there rigging the 2016 election.

There may be a growing number of voters stacking up against Trump, but that is a result of his own actions, deeds and words, not that of some evil conspirators.

Still, it is impossible to escape politics, even where the Olympics is concerned.

I thought that what we had at hand here is a competition among the youth of the world, called to compete for the sake of competition every four years in an athletic endeavor.

As far as the athletes, that is probably true.

But there have already been a few political moments.

We had a team of 10 unaffiliated athletes march in as the “Olympic Refugee Team.” They come from South Sudan, Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Syria and compete under no flag.

We had the elimination of more than 100 Russian athletes, banned for doping violations.

The host nation is in a serious political crisis, with a suspended president facing impeachment and a corruption scandal that makes Watergate look like a walk in the park.

There was also an underlying message slipped into the opening ceremonies about serious global environmental issues.

It was done tastefully but was a bit jarring.

In the midst of gaiety and celebration, we paused for a moment of reality about the state of the planet, which is in critical condition.

While I applaud all efforts to fix our planet, I must add that the International Olympic Committee’s message the other night would have carried more weight if it didn’t come amid concerns about the conditions in which these young athletes will compete.

The waters where some will compete are dangerously polluted with toxic human and industrial waste. There is fear over the Zika virus. And there is some sort of superbug bacteria in Rio’s water that is said to be resistant to antibiotics.

So much for sincerity and credibility.

NBC also got into the game, with a very well done segment by veteran newsman Tom Brokaw on the importance of the Amazon. While for some it may have given an opportunity for a snack/bathroom/smoke break from the TV, it was a credible piece by an exemplary reporter. How it played in flyover country remains to be seen.

The political wheelhouse is steered from the bully pulpit, whether it is Barack Obama, Pope Francis, Vladimir Putin or any other world leader or figure.

And that bully pulpit is extremely portable.

It can be argued that the idealistic Pierre de Coubertin, the father of the modern-day Olympics, would be appalled, not at the notion of cleansing the planet but rather for using the Olympics as a political platform.

Of course, this is not the first time and, certainly, not the last.

In 1936, Adolph Hitler used the Berlin Games as a foundation for Nazi propaganda.

In 1968, U.S. medal runners Tommie Smith and John Carlos gave the gloved-fist Black Power salute on the medal stand during the Mexico City Games.

In 1972, the PLO group Black September killed 11 members of the Israeli team and one German police officer during the Munich Games.

In 1980, the United States boycotted the Moscow Games as a protest to the Russian invasion of Afghanistan.

In 1984, Russia and 14 Eastern bloc nations boycotted the Los Angeles Games and had their own sports celebration which they called the Friendship Games.

In 1988, North Korea boycotted the Seoul Games.

And let’s also be honest, the Olympics has become the territory of large green, where some athletes, blessed because they compete in marquee sports, can convert gold medals into megabucks through sponsorships, endorsements, speaking engagements and, of course, all the doors that celebrity status can open.

That, too, is an uneven playing field, because it is unlikely that a winger on the women’s field hockey team will be able to cash in like the world’s fastest human who sets a world record in the 100-meter dash.

So far, we haven’t had anybody emerge as a crowd favorite or villain. Nobody has endeared us or outraged us. So far, we see a bunch of young, committed athletes striving for their moment in the Olympic light.

I think most of us are hoping for Michael Phelps to go out in storybook style, to see some underdog come forth and capture our hearts and minds, to find something that inspires us and makes us feel good.

God knows we can use it.

We’re immersed in perhaps the ugliest political campaign of the century. The scorched-earth policies of the candidates are depressing, divisive, demoralizing.

I hope these kids, called from the four corners of the world to test each other on the field of sport, can give us a little respite, if only temporary, from what is yet to come as we approach the homestretch of this election year.

Maybe, just maybe, we can find something to rally around, to lift the spirits of a saddened and sagging nation.

C’mon, kids.

We’re counting on you.

Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews, @EdKociela

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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  • BIG GUY August 9, 2016 at 8:29 am

    As is often the case, I don’t agree with every opinion, but as also often the case, I appreciate your thoughtful and well written piece. I am on board with many of your observations and I too am saddened by the extent to which politics and the latest “cause de jour” infect the Games.

  • .... August 9, 2016 at 9:02 am

    Great article Ed. ! Well written and it’s just the way it is. the article is right on target Ed ! but I’m sure your full time haters will stop by with their typical rant and whining. God bless them all !

  • Brian August 9, 2016 at 9:42 am

    “there is no secret cabal out there rigging the 2016 election”

    Apparently you missed all the news about the media and DNC collaborating to make sure Sanders didn’t have a chance, and the same level of collusion against the RNC candidates in general and Trump specifically?

    You must have also missed the news about Facebook and Twitter suppressing conservative news, viewpoints, and candidates while promoting liberal news, viewpoints, and candidates.

    And I’m sure you must have been out of town during the 4+ years of the IRS actively suppressing conservative groups while rubber-stamping liberal ones.

    All of these are confirmed and proven (conspiracy fact, not conspiracy theory), but its not at all surprising you choose to ignore them.

    I can’t comment on the rest of the article, because I stopped after “there is no secret cabal out there rigging the 2016 election”.

    • Bob August 9, 2016 at 3:34 pm

      there absolutely is a cabal rigging elections. The public didn’t want Hillery, and Trump I believe is just a controlled opposition shill. There’s not much difference between the ruling political parties anymore–both run by billionaire elitists, and the rest of us are just slaves and serfs. The Rs and Ds have merged to form one elitist uni-party. neo-libs/neo-cons = same crew

  • RealMcCoy August 9, 2016 at 12:47 pm

    ed, like all flaming liberals, hates facts.
    I found it amusing that he manages to spin an ‘anti-Trump’ dig into an article about the Olympics too.
    Yes, the facts are out there for all to read; corruption in the 2016 election will be rampant. Hillary is already selected to be the next president, and all she’s waiting for is the sham of the vote to be over with already.
    If, by a miracle, Trump is allowed to be the next president, then watch ed scream and shout about the ‘rigged’ election.
    As for the rest of his blathering in the article, it was really jut filler content. All he really wanted to do was slam Trump.

  • DB August 9, 2016 at 2:53 pm

    Unfortunately, it’s still all politics on any network whose call letters don’t end with the letters ‘NBC’. I’m pretty well done with politics until, say, Halloween. The more the liberal networks trash Trump, the more I like him. The networks don’t seem to be able to grasp this. To be fair, I like his ideas more than the man himself. As for the Olympics, I couldn’t care less…Rant Over…

  • Bob August 9, 2016 at 3:44 pm

    I’d be stunned if trump wasn’t a plant and a shill from the very start–just take into account that in real life trump and hillary are very good friends. nothing would change for the better even if the elites do decide to appoint trump to the white house. all bread and circuses for the dumbed down masses of sheeple.

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