By James Turnage
With the Summer Olympics about a month away, I’ve been thinking about why I’m not more excited to watch them. The theft of the Gold Medal from the United States Olympic basketball team in 1972 was a travesty, but, worse yet, it caused a political change in Olympic sports thanks to members of the Olympic committee and the countries involved: the United States and the Soviet Union.
The eventual outcome was the changing of the rules to allow professional athletes from the NHL, the Russian national army team and the NBA to participate in these former classic amateur competitions. I believe this was the end of the essence of the Olympics.
First of all, the winning of gold medals should be the least important achievement in the games. Secondly, why should we pay for professional athletes to go on vacation and most likely receive a gold medal intended for amateur athletes? Don’t the pros make enough money and receive more than their fair share of adulation? Shouldn’t the college seniors be given the opportunity to represent their country and be rewarded for their stellar efforts with a trip to a foreign country to play the game they love? Again, I know I’m old fashioned, but winning isn’t everything to me. Honor, effort, and simply doing what is right are the standards I believe we should all live by. If all that is important is winning, then as a people, we have regressed to the barbarism of ancient times. We have left behind the importance of effort, the satisfaction of hard work and the celebration of giving our maximum effort regardless of the outcome. Shame on any American who would perform any act simply to receive a victory and a victory without honor.