33% of Canadians don't know where the 2010 Olympics are.  That should be a clue to the organisers about the current relevance of the Olympics.

I'm not even sure what the Olympics are supposed to be any more.  Amateur sport?  Not even technically since the US "Dream Team" in basketball at the 92 Summers, and the men's ice hockey teams comprised mostly of NHLers has sealed the deal.  (Funny how the rhetoric switched from "the purity of amateur sport" to "but it's not the best players in the world" once we wanted the pros in.) We now explicitly pay for medal wins, not that athletes weren't receiving sponsorship deals essentially based off wins anyway.  Anybody remember those Alex Baumann commercials that he did for the Egg Council?  Suppose he did those for free?  Think they'd have been made with somebody else instead if Baumann hadn't won?  Even if athletes weren't paid, the Olys have been smirched for some time with the political aspect - boycotts galore in the 70s and 80s, Cold War tensions leaking out through the seams.

So why are the games still held?  Most people I know watch one or two events (men's and women's ice hockey), sometimes count the medals as if they mean something personally, and that's it.  In Vancouver, it seems to be mostly about the local business the games generate.  Oh, and sweeping up the trash.  For China, it appears to be a way for the government to show the rest of the world that it's not really all that bad.  Oh, and sweeping up some more trash.  Besides, the rest of the world really doesn't care anyway, as long as the Chinese keep selling us cheap consumer goods.

This is not intended to disrespect Olympians in particular or "amateur" sport in general.  I understand that to the athletes, the Games are the ultimate competition, the aspiration and dream of a lifetime.  I just wonder about everything else, and if having the Games continues means the everything else must escalate, as it seems to be doing, then the price is too high.  "Swifter, higher, stronger" means "more, more, more," and it's sickening.