How does the Olympics make you feel?

News reaches me that the authorities plan to use the London Eye to project a Twitter snapshot of how the nation feels about the Olympics every night the games are on.

What colour the wheel changes to and how much of it is lit up will reflect an analysis of millions of UK tweets for whether they are broadly positive or broadly negative.

Which strikes me as a bit of a gamble. Presumably the object is to show that people are enjoying the endeavour, but my own sense is that most aren’t. There are two people in particular in my Facebook timeline who are enthusiastic about the Olympics, but then they both have jobs at the games and so Mandy Rice Davies applies. Everyone else is spectacularly Eeyorish about it, as this wonderful New York Times piece explains:

LONDON — While the world’s athletes limber up at the Olympic Park, Londoners are practicing some of their own favorite sports: complaining, expecting the worst and cursing the authorities.

Asked “What do you feel about the Olympics?” the other day, a random sampling of people here gave answers that included bitter laughter; the words “fiasco,” “disaster” and “police state”; and detailed explanations of how they usually get to work, how that is no longer possible and how very unhappy that makes them.

The piece goes on to describe the Daily Mail as having the unofficial motto “What Fresh Hell is This?”

One of the main reasons for emulating the anhedonic donkey is there are just so many reasons why the Olympics might make you feel grumpy: the London focus; the cost to the taxpayer; the militarisation; the sponsors (“some of the worst corporations in the world“; the stuff about brand protection – whether or not true; and the exhortation only to write nice things about the Olympic website.

I am hardly the person to be objective on the issue of the Olympics as I don’t actually like sport of any kind at all – and yet even I have been a little tempted to try and get tickets to something to see what all the fuss is about. Far less to actually watch any sport happening – I really don’t give a rat’s ass – but I am quite keen to see what all the fuss is and see the Olympic Park from a urban planning perspective. It featured on Gardener’s Question Time and sounded interesting. I’ve visited, for example, Munich’s Olympic Park, mainly to climb the Olympiaturm, and that piqued my interest. How long will it be – if ever – before London’s Olympic Park is opened to a wider public? Will anyone ever be able to climb the crumpled rollercoaster without an event ticket, or will the whole thing be dismantled and boarded up as soon as the Paralympics wheel out of town? (Loads of tickets left for the Paralympics, if you wanted to get to see the site and/or experience the Arabfly Dangleway.)

When the torch came to town, I did sort of go and see what all the fuss was about – by being a bellringer for the occasion as the torch came past one of the churches I ring at regularly anyway. I was grudgingly impressed by the huge number of people who turned out to see it, and the city was incredibly fortunate with the weather – just hours before, rain had beaten the torch back into the van in Mansfield, soaking dozens of the kids I taught a few months ago, and yet in Nottingham the glorified cigarette lighter got blazing sunshine.

It’s just my abiding thought about all of the trappings of the Olympics – the torch parade, the park, the building projects, the precision of the planning, which has taken hundreds of people to do, the faffing in the regions – is that this is all something of a huge waste of human endeavour. What could be achieved if all this money and good will could be put to use for something more worthwhile?

But then that is what I think about sport more generally, so perhaps I’m not the best placed person to judge. And it’s not as if I have any actual suggestions as to what that more productive thing might be, so perhaps I should just shut up and let the enthusiasts get on with it all.

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3 comments on “How does the Olympics make you feel?

  1. Jennie says:

    Amused by the reactions of the thousands of people who turned up to see the torch go past in my town: “Huh, is that it?” “Is that what all the fuss was about” “What a waste of money” etc. I think the NYT article is spot on and very funny.

  2. […] How does the Olympics make you feel? by Alex Foster on Niles’s Blog. “The piece in the New York Times is awesome!” […]

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