With almost exactly 24 hours to go until the start of the 2012 Olympics in London (a mere stones throw from Canary Wharf and perhaps the global heart of derivative), the hype on local news is building to fever pitch. The BBC has moved all of its reporting desks to a large glass building with a view over the sprawling Olympic park, the last 2 months have had non-stop coverage of a fairly pointless torch procession and a small grubby cafe in the east end has been forced to change its name (which it has held for nearly 20 years) to Olympi Cafe to avoid any tourists thinking it is an official Games venue...
So, let us put aside all this talk of insider , manipulation, Sandy Weill's hypocrisy and discuss what really matters; sport..
There has been some controversy over Oscar Pistorius who is due to compete in both the mens 400m and 400m Olympic relay as well as the 100m, 200m, 400m and 400m relay in the Paralympics on behalf of his native country, South Africa. Yes, science has finally created a man who can run faster with no legs than he could with 2. Should he be disallowed from entering the 'normal' Olympics as his speed is largely due to engineering capabilities? Should it be celebrated that a man who has gone for almost his entirely life without legs is competing to an Olympic standard and has not let it hold him back from pursuing his dream? Personally, I am extremely interested in this guy.
I'm going to come across as a slight chauvinist here, but I do not think that men and women should compete in separate events, they should all be mixed. You are either the best in the world or you are not. You can use the logic that men are just better at some events than women, but I would counter that women are better than men at others (gymnastics, beach volleyball, riding just to name a few). Also, if you decide to separate based on genetic differences depending on your Y chromosome count, why not take it a step further and have the 'black' and 'white' 100m as any viewer can tell you there is a huge advantage there.
My last discussion point is that outside of the athletic and quasi-althletic events, nobody seems to care about the Olympic rankings. People like Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps are legends in their own right, but in the team games especially there is relatively little focus. For example, Spain care that they are World and European football champions, but nobody covets the 'Olympic Gold' football title. Basketball is either NBA, college or nothing. It's not like Kobe and co are going to be too fussed as to whether they beat the Chinese in Olympic basketball, nor will Lakers fans.
So there you have it, my brief and cynical take on the "greatest show on Earth". I am not a huge fan of sports in general, although world-class football, the NBA and Formula 1 do interest me. I guess I would always rather see something done to the absolute best it can possibly be done, rather than just the winner of a certain category. I don't care if you are the female number 2 at tennis in the world, you are either world number 1 overall or not. I don't care if someone runs the 100m in 9.56 or 9.48 seconds if there is a bionic man who can do it in 5 seconds.
As always, thoughts welcome!