Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Evolving Meaning of the Olympics...

A beach volleyball court is 128 m².Image via Wikipedia I flipped on the bronze medal match of men's volleyball the other day and saw Brazil vs. Georgia.

I did a double take when I saw the last names of the players "Geor" and "Gia."

"What are the odds?" I thought. "That's just not possible."

A few searches of Google and I had my answer.

Apparently, the Georgian Olympic Committee had decided to invest in beach volleyball and had essentially hired 2 pairs of Brazilians (one men and one women) to represent their country in the Olympics. The two guys had changed their last names accordingly.

That left me a bit puzzled.

Aren't the Olympics supposed to give each country a chance for its own people/culture, etc. to demonstrate its athletic prowess? Isn't the sports field suppose to replace the battlefield?

Are the Brazilians, in this case, nothing more than modern day Hessians?

So, what's happening here?

If Georgia can't produce beach volleyball players and has to import them, what purpose does the Olympics serve?

I suppose it is an opportunity for a country to coalesce around something. I mean, it's not like all of the Yankees are native New Yorkers, right?

So having a few people who agree to wear your flag and bring attention to your country (even if they aren't from there/born there/live there) may not be such a bad thing.

Besides, it's a win-win. The Brazilians couldn't make their own country's team, so this is right in line with the increased professionalism of the games.

The more I think about it, the more examples of it happening anyway, the more I am comfortable with it.

If Georgians (and granted they are in a unique situation these days) FEEL more close-knit because 2 brazilians are wearing a Georgian flag and competing in a medal game (which otherwise would not be the case), then maybe the investment in hiring these freelancers is worth it.

Gives me a new business idea www.olympianfreelancer.com  You know, match up athletes willing to sell their talents with countries that need it.

Not sure it is exactly the same, but the world-record holder in the Women's 1500m has a similar situation (though her story of persecution is admittedly different)

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