Joan Smith: Not liking the Olympics doesn't make me bad

Share

It was bliss: I spent a whole week of the Olympics in a mountain village in southern Spain, hardly aware that in London people were throwing things and jumping over things. One morning I got up at half past five and went up into an olive grove with a farmer and his grandson, watching as the sun rose over the valley and the trees began to cast faint shadows on the parched earth. I love this part of the world, but its beauty is tempered by a tragic history; two or three years ago, the skeletons of 19 Republican militiamen were discovered in a gorge where they were shot by Franco sympathisers as they retreated from Malaga.

Some things matter more than sport. But I've come back to my own country to discover Olympic fervour encouraging a species of emotional correctness, where anyone who doesn't care for competitive games is regarded as a killjoy. It's like being transported to a Victorian public school, where anything less than a passionate interest in muscular athleticism is regarded with peevish suspicion. You aren't interested in hockey or diving? You don't care about medal tables? Shame on you!

One night last week I went to see the New York drag artist Joey Arias perform on the South Bank, and it was a relief to find myself in an audience with something other than Britain's medal tally on its mind. At a party the next evening I encountered the Argentinian volleyball team, who seemed very tall and very nice, but it didn't turn me into a sports fan. I know plenty of people who've watched one or two Olympic events but could do without the wall-to-wall coverage, let alone shrill demands that successful athletes should be given knighthoods. Athletes are competitive people who care desperately about personal success, and I'm not convinced they deserve public honours as well as medals.

All sorts of things are mixed up here. I don't think I'd mind so much if the Olympics were a simple sports contest without the corporate sponsorship, the overblown opening ceremony and the massive expense. And dressage seems the most pointless activity ever imposed by humans on innocent animals. But I feel sorry for competitors from poor countries, who must be conscious that success in the Games reflects affluence as much as anything. Two days ago, no single African nation was in the top 20 in the medal table.

Now we're being told that schools need more competitive sport, even though being forced to play hockey on chilly playing fields almost put me off exercise for life. I've never wanted to beat anyone at games, and I only run three times a week because it makes me feel better. I certainly don't want to see another generation of children put off exercise by lectures from David Cameron, bent on reviving a public school notion of sportsmanship.

I shouldn't need to say this, but not liking the Olympics doesn't make you a bad person. Whatever happened to tolerance? I should have stayed another week in Andalucia.

politicalblonde.com; twitter.com/@polblonde

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Purchasing Administrator - Chinese Speaking

£17000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly growing company is...

Recruitment Genius: Start a Career as a Financial Markets Trader

£40000 - £100000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Become a professional Trader a...

Recruitment Genius: Software Implementation Consultant

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This software company specialis...

Recruitment Genius: Service Desk Co-ordinator / Client Services Administrator

£22000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The successful applicant will s...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

The era of graduates from the university conveyor belt is over

Hamish McRae
The UCAS clearing house call centre in Cheltenham, England  

Ucas should share its data on students from poor backgrounds so we can get a clearer picture of social mobility

Conor Ryan
Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
10 best sun creams for kids

10 best sun creams for kids

Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

Tate Sensorium

New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

Remember Ashton Agar?

The No 11 that nearly toppled England
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks