For the last couple of months there has been an absolute uproar over Rio being the host of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. Even I was against it at first- like many, I raised my fist with the rest and roared: “Say no to bribing! Say no to corruption! Say no to human rights violations! There are people starving while the corrupt politicians and officials make money! It’s disgusting!”
But after seeing the picture of favelas illuminated by the fireworks coming from an Olympic stadium in the background, I changed my mind.
The Rio Olympics represent the cruel reality of our society, of our world really. The games represent the best but also the worst. We cannot protest only when our athletes are not treated right. What about all those people living in poverty, crime and hunger on a daily basis? Why are we not making a bigger deal out of that?
No matter what you hated or loved about the Rio Olympics, at least it was not pretending to be something it was not. It was real, dysfunctional, dangerous, exciting, sad and challenging at the same time. It was not the pink-eyed version of our world, but rather an authentic one. Even athletes, many of which come from destitute backgrounds, gave us their best and their ugliest, their rawest, just like our world really is, in case you forgot.
Imagine watching the Oscars; everyone is dressed to the nines, looking stunning and hungry. Next up: Best supporting actor category. They read out the names, and then… they announce the winner. The actor walks on stage and shares a sob story. He kisses his Oscar. He won! The camera turns towards the other best supporting actor nominees and hey, guess what, they are also holding up their Oscars- you know, they should get an Oscar just for their nomination.
Now, how ridiculous is that?
America is turning into a nation of wussies. Everyone is being rewarded these days. For effort, not results. Just last night I saw pictures of my friends running in a 5K. And you know what was hanging around their necks? Medals. Freaking medals. They didn’t come in first, second or third. They weren’t anywhere near top 100. But they got medals. For what? For participating. It makes me vomit, dear fellow Americans.
Medals symbolize something extraordinary- extraordinary time or achievement, sometimes service to the country. They do not symbolize participation, or an effort or getting of a couch to walk a 5K. America, what are you doing? Event organizers, what are you doing? By giving out medals, albeit fake, you are devaluing the value of winners. The winners who trained hard to be the fastest. They woke up every day and trained. Trained to be better, to improve results, to be the best. Not average. The best. They woke up sore, they woke up tired and they put years in training. They sweat tears, they sweat ambition and they sweat dedication. They deserve to get something unique. Because if we stop awarding those who push the boundaries, we acknowledge average… and average will never achieve extraordinary.