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Doping kills sport
by Thanos Kalamidas
2008-04-08 09:29:57
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What happened these days in Greek sport is not new, it is not that it never happened before and it is not that it will never happen again. Unfortunately, it will happen again in Greece, it will happen again everywhere in the world and the responsibility doesn’t stand only on the athletes, if you could call them like that, but on all of us, from the governments to the people who watch sport events on television.

Eleven weightlifters from the Greek national and Olympic team were caught by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and we must realize that this is not a dark moment for the Greek weightlifters but a dark era for the international sports that started in 1952 in Helsinki. Of course there is no proof but everybody involved knows that in Helsinki this embarrassing moment for international sport began and it went on becoming darker and darker.

And now we are months before the Beijing Olympics and apart from all the other issues that kill the Olympic values, doping is the one that will kill the Olympic Games if nobody does something and the Olympic Ccommittee has proved that they are the less abled to do anything about it. They are the ones who have turned the Olympic Games into gigantic money machine. And the athletes? To my opinion they are the victims and they are victims that endanger their lives, most of them have a dramatic end, young and embarrassed regretting their ten minutes in glory and missing the real life.

But let’s start first with the athletes. Just like the Canadian Ben Johnson – does anybody still remember him? – they are young kids with poor backgrounds and no future opportunities; their only chance is either to become rock stars or successful athletes. In the beginning it is just vitamins that help and then it is ‘don’t ask, just swallow!’ Yes these kids are responsible but their responsibility is the smallest in the pyramid. The worst part of it is that these kids pay the outcome; all these medicines and steroids kill! It’s not just a word, they literally kill these people, they die from cancer, they die young and suffering till the last moment. Regrets? Of course, too many but when it is too late!

Then it comes to the trainers and the coaches. They are not into sports; they are businessmen, drug dealers. Very few of them are the innocent and the innocent ones are poor, you can see them. The others know! And don’t stop to the classic athletes. What makes you think that football, basketball, rugby, baseball makes any difference? How it happens the last few years to have so many incidents of heart attacks inside the sports fields? Because they dope them like horses and their hearts cannot stand it.

The states. Of course the states are part of it, they give the money to all the national teams and they are after the metals. Does anybody remember the East German national teams? Women that looked like men from the steroids. It was important the bloody – literally bloody – gold medal for the state. It is important the bloody gold medal for Mugabe’s Zimbabwe, it is important for the Turkish politician. And yes, they know and they don’t care as long many medals will come. Even the most democratic governments are able to give a blind eye and accept any kind of excuses just to turn their back to reality. The Greek government did so a few years ago with Thanou and Kenderis with the result nobody to know the truth. The state made them heroes and they didn’t dare say the truth. Didn’t the Americans do the same with Marion Jones?

The Olympic Committee, this is a laughable topic. The Olympic committee and especially their directors live the high life for life. Royal treatment, private planes and luxurious holidays. The Olympic spirit for them starts and ends with the money they get from the adverts and the money are billions of dollars. They don’t give a damn if China is using like slavery child labor, their problem is how many are going to watch the Olympic Games on television and how many adverts they are going to have. And they know, the president of the Olympic Committee Mr. Rogge despite all the things he says he knows and he is equally guilty.

And then it comes to us, to all of us who just watch the games, all the games without any profit just for the fun of it. They trained us to watch them and expect the records without thinking. Without thinking that 100 meters in less than eight seconds is not normal, is not even logical. They trained us to believe that we watch all these events for the records and not for the joy of it.

Do you know what the major Olympic value is? To participate not to win! That’s why in the ancient times the winner just got a laurel. A wreath made from an olive branch that symbolized in ancient times peace. Is the record going to replace the excitement of the healthy competition? Does it mean anything for us if the athlete makes ten, or eleven even fifteen seconds? We are not chronometers, we just see men and women compete, time is for the chronometers.

All the athletes take drugs and I’m sorry to say it but this is my strong believe. I cannot accept anymore all these records, are not logical. There are two reasons we don’t know and we cannot prove that they all take drugs, either these drugs are ‘legal’ or they are not traceable yet! Nothing else. And they are two solutions, either the drugs any kind of drugs are forbidden or everybody can get them for free, it doesn’t matter anyway. In the first case we all must work together; the second case means the end of sports but it goes there anyway if we continue like we are now.

   
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Emanuel Paparella2008-04-08 12:35:05
Indeed, we ought not be too surprised by the death of play and sports in our Western society. As Johan Huizinga pointed out way back in 1938 in his by now classical “Homo Ludens” (Man the player), the play element of culture is a primary condition for the generation of culture. When play is on the wane, when it is professionalized and becomes “serious,” and mere spoil sports it can only mean one thing: that civilization is also on the wane. Perhaps this is due to the lack of the poetic among the adults of our Western civilization, for if we watch closely children playing one soon realized that for them they play has no ulterior purpose, they play for the sake of the game and for no other reason; certainly not for political and social machinations or the quest for power. (continued below)


Emanuel Paparella2008-04-08 12:36:49
Greco-Roman civilization was permeated by play, so were the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Even in philosophy you had the contests among sophists in public. The very act of Mythopoiesis or personifying and attributing god-like elements to things and the phenomena of nature originates in play and is in fact mental play perhaps better grasped by children than adults at the intuitive level. In fact, that is how children make sense of the world, not with scientific rational schemes. Having lost that kind of poetry, play only remains at the surface in modern times in the realm of drama. Play is significant; Is always present in any culture that values freedom and this is so because it lies outside of "real life" or the ordinary; it is both a contest for something and a representation of something. We access reality by playing with it. Thus religion and ritual are considered part of play by both Huizinga and Jung. So, I dare say, that there is a silver lining in those musings: as long as there are children there will be play around and the loss of the serious play of the adult world will not seem so tragic. If Jung and Huizinga have it on target, the gods have a way of returning, the more our rationalistic times denigrates them.


Emanuel Paparella2008-04-08 13:16:11
P.S. Perhaps Lucian Blaga has rendered it best with a poem:

"The child is laughing: The Game is my wisdom and my love

The young is singing: The Love is my wisdom and my game

The old is silent: The Wisdom is my love and my game"

--Lucian Blaga -Three Faces)


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