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Today at our local shopping centre, we were accosted by a fund-raising team for the Paralympics. On seeing the fund-raising booth, my companion mentioned that only the most able of disabled people are fit to compete in the Paralympics. Your lack of disability, combined with your sporting potential, predicts how well you will do in the Paralympics.

Of course, thinking about the Paralympics brought us to the topic of the mainstream Olympics, of which the Winter flavour is imminent. What does the Olympics say to us? It says,”We prize physical achievement over all else. If you cannot achieve physically, you are a LOSER!” To paraphrase a piece of advertising that was publicised in Australia for the 2008 Beijing Olympics: physical prowess is the pinnacle of mankind’s perfection!

Now, the idea behind the Olympics hasn’t changed much from ancient times. Physical ability was highly prized then, too, and was used originally to determine which young woman would become the priestess for the goddess Hera in the festival of the Olympics.  Much as we like to think that philosophy and erudition were also highly thought of then, there were few (if any) festivals held in their honour. Religion? Physical ability? Yup, you can have festivals for those, and that’s all that most people are interested in, apparently. Academics? Smarts? Keep it to yourself, you geeky weirdo!

A close friend of mine pointed out that your average athlete, let’s call him “fast-meat-guy”, would not be in a position to save us from cholera or smallpox. Who can save us? Perhaps “weedy-geek-man” isn’t so bad after all.

As another excellent friend of mine pointed out,”Why should I support the jocks who beat me up in school?”

It’s not that I think that the Olympics should be discontinued, only that it would be nice to see similar effort put into celebrating intellectual pursuits as well.

Categories: Culture, Opinion.

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