Date: August 12 2012
I DON'T get angry often, but the Olympics have sparked a burning rage within, and there's plenty of blame to throw around.
First, Australia - I love you, you're my homeland and always will be, but please, please stop whingeing about the medal tally, and the lack of gold. This isn't 1976, which was humiliating. One silver, four bronze. Total. Have you become so jaded as a population, you can't enjoy the relative success of the hard-working athletes who have made it to the medal dais?
Athletes - I love you, you represent my country, but please, please stop whingeing about anything and everything. You get to play sport as grown-ups and you're lucky enough to go to the Olympics. Have you become so jaded you've forgotten how ridiculously cool it is to carry the hopes of an entire nation?
During the United States coverage of the mind-numbingly horrible opening ceremony, when the Australian team appeared, legendary US sports commentator Bob Costas said we were the arch rivals of the US in swimming, but this year the Aussies weren't expected to pose much of a challenge. Did Bob know what Australia didn't? Or maybe we didn't want to know the truth. Quick, tell me one genuine, red-hot Aussie gold medal favourite who didn't perform in the pool, apart from Magnussen.
There are 22 million Australians. There are 330 million Americans, and more than a billion Chinese. We will never be able to match the big boys, no matter how many dollars are spent. We simply lack a few hundred million warm bodies. So everyone stop whingeing about the money. We all know spending more borders on obscene, and while spending less would help feed the homeless, it's not going to happen because we like seeing lots of people in garish yellow on TV every four years. The money talk is irrelevant until we pull a 1976.
Our medal tally got an abnormal, unsustainable boost thanks to Sydney. We were focused, organised, and desperate to show off to the world. The Athens medal count benefited from the Sydney bump, same with Beijing. London is the dawn of the new reality, where we do well, but not ridiculously well, and what's wrong with that? Really, none of it matters. We love the Olympics, it feeds our communal psyche on a level my American friends can't understand, because they don't feel the need for the world to notice them athletically like we do. It's time we let it go.
Olympic success doesn't make us better global citizens. It's all good fun, and it's great to cheer on the winners, but really, is gold that much more significant than silver?
So to summarise, we need to shut up, grow up, understand our place in the world, and appreciate the Olympics, because in between all the entitled superstars, and the whingeing that was so loud I heard it here, there are a bunch of athletes from all over the world who work harder than we can imagine, all for a few moments of global recognition.
Tim is a writer, TV producer and proud former Canberra resident who has lived in Los Angeles since 1997. Twitter @timschildberger
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