Losing at the Olympics

I’m not a big sports fan, but I do love the Olympics. It exposes me to sports I would not normally see. As a young child I remember watching the Olympics 24/7. Media coverage would include Australian athletes as well as those from around the world. We’d watch them win, lose and medal ceremonies for them all.

This year’s coverage by Channel 9 shattered some of that nostalgia for me. Moments over the first week made me wonder if there were any other competitors apart from Australia. It began to feel a bit xenophobic before it became obvious; the media were desperate for ‘gold’.

With all their hopes weighing on our swim team we watched for almost a whole week with only one gold medal in the bag. So what did we do with that?

Well there was some finger pointing because silver simply was not good enough. It was uncomfortable to watch and read. But when Australian Olympic Committee member Kevin Gosper blamed the lack of government money as the cause of it all it began to feel a bit extreme. Thankfully only days later Essential Media released research proving as a nation we did not think that was the case.

So why was the media obsessed with ‘going for gold’? In my mind it was a desperate need for good news stories and program fillers.

And sure we want good news however second best was just not good enough. But you know what, for many of our athletes it was. Sally Pearson is absolutely contagious with her silver in the 100m hurdles. Then there was Erin Denshan who kept reminding the channel 9 Journalist that despite being pipped at the end of the triathlon she was chuffed with her bronze medal.

The media’s obsession with a formulaic Olympics that wins stacks of gold and an endless stream of ‘winning’ montages is sending a worrying message to our children. It is not all about winning, it is about going out there, doing your best and being proud of whatever you achieve. Pardon the cliché, but that’s what I want my son to see.

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