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For The Olympics To Survive It Must Change, Starting Right Now

03/10/2016 13:47
Tim de Waele via Getty Images

When I think back on the Rio Olympics and Paralympics, the first word that comes to my mind is "meh".

I do so wish I'd been more excited.

How fondly I remember previous Olympics Games, and spending hours every evening glued to the television trying to decipher the points system for the diving, gymnastics and equestrian events, the reason judo looks nothing like martial arts in the movies, and why the Americans don't always win every event that involves a gun.

Perhaps it's just that every four years, I'm a bit older.

Four years older, to be exact, and celebrating human excellence and peak fitness as a child, at home with your parents, is very different to watching it in silence at a bar surrounded by strangers all washing away the workday with alcohol and fried things.

Maybe if I spawned a child who hit that rare trifecta of being genetically gifted enough, and in the right way, to suit a specific sport, and I magically became the kind of parent who could be bothered getting up at 4am to drive them to training, perhaps then I'd be more into it.

Or maybe it's all the negative coverage and the drug cheats that have turned me off.

The uninhabitable athletes village, green swimming pools that smell of farts, a sailing course that's teeming with killer bugs, and at most events, all those empty seats.

Every Olympics has its problems though, which we usually collectively ignore once the events get underway.

With Rio, however, there were other annoyances.

Like the Zika virus and the thousands of lethal birth defects it's caused, the fact that most politicians in Brazil are corrupt, and the millions in Rio without adequate food, housing and healthcare who keep bothering the tourists by demanding money with guns.

And it's not just me who lost interest.

Television ratings were down compared to past Olympics, and on social media there was very nearly complete silence, especially compared to the noise generated by each new "outrageous" celebrity baby name.

One way to bring back the viewers might be to stop selecting the athletes based on who's the fittest and fastest, but instead based on who's got the better backstory.

Then instead of boring old medals, what about giving the athletes something they could actually use?

First place gets a recording contract, second a wife or husband, and third receives an apprenticeship as a chef.

Perhaps the real reason we were less interested in these games than the latest iPhone, a fashion show nip-slip or celebrities going splitsville has something to do with all the doping allegations.

At previous games the athletes wondered about, were concerned that perhaps, and sometimes were even openly suspicious about the use of performance enhancing drugs.
In Rio, however, multiple athletes were pointing at others and saying, "cheater".

As I see it, they've now got four years to restore the integrity of the Olympics, and whoever's in charge needs to start right now.

Basically, there are two options.

Either stop testing altogether, and allow the athletes to pump themselves so full of steroids that when they explode out of the blocks, it is literally an explosion with flames and fireworks and everything.

Or clean up the testing side of things to eliminate the corruption. By setting up one truly independent body and randomly sending the testers all around the world, and never ever allowing countries to police their own athletes.

A third option is to keep things going as they are.

Which allows cheating as long as the cheaters are corrupt and clever enough to avoid getting caught.

Now I thought that sort of attitude goes against everything the Olympics is supposed to stand for.

Then again, politicians, stock brokers and FIFA have been playing by those same rules for decades.

Well, it's only one rule, which is that you can do whatever you want as long as you don't get caught.

If the Olympics refuses to change, then every four years, as more cheats go unpunished, even more of us will tune out, and the whole thing will eventually cease to be a thing at all.

Meaning that the clean athletes are screwed over twice, as a smaller television audience will mean fewer sponsorship dollars, and with more cheating, it'll become even harder for anyone who doesn't cheat to win.

Just as it is with politics, the stock market, FIFA and the rest of the real world.

So the Olympics may no longer be teaching children any good moral lessons, but at least it's teaching them lessons they'll need to survive and thrive as adults.

Xavier Toby is a writer and comedian.

His second comedy memoir 'Going Out of My Mined' is available now.

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