We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

In 1980 the Olympics ceased to be what they had been for most of their modern history and even remained a little in Montreal in 1976, which was a great festival of amateur sport intimately linked to the grass roots of sport and became a curious combination of the Soviet and the commercial. Since then they have failed to fit either of the two justifiable models of modern games because they are neither amateur activity done for the love of it nor are they entertainment organised commercially. The overwhelming majority of Olympic sports have no spectator following of any substance and in the case of those which do (such as tennis, basketball and football) the event is peripheral and a nuisance to the normal calendar. Olympians are no longer the outsiders who make it in their own way – as Harold Abrahams was or Don Thompson who won a walking medal in 1960 training on his own, using his own methods. Nor are they genuinely commercial stars like Lewis Hamilton or Didier Drogba. They are Soviet-style, state-subsidised creatures, competing for the benefit of their political masters: “Team GB” with the PM as skipper.

Lincoln Allison

13 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • George

    love it when someone clearly articulates thoughts and feelings that were vaguely bubbling away

  • Justin

    I would contest that the majority of Olympic sports have no spectator following of any substance, you only need to look at the road cycling today to see the huge support it has in this country and events like the Olympics are driving more and more people to take up two wheels or other exercise and get out there.

  • I think you could argue that road cycling is one of those sports for which the event is peripheral to the normal calendar. Today’s race was great, but the competitors would rather win the Tour de France any time.

    I think the author of the quotation is looking at the past through very rose coloured glasses though. Prior to 1980, the Olympics had been used for their own purposes by Nazis, Palestinian terrorists who wanted to murder Israelis, ferocious proxy Cold War battles (the 1956 Water Polo game between Hungary and the USSR, in which the water had turned pink by the end of the game, was a noted example), and lord knows what else. “Amateurism” in sport was basically a way for the socially well connected to exclude others on classist and often racist grounds, so good riddance to that. Connected to that, I think the IOC has basically considered itself to be a modern day feudal aristocracy pretty much since 1895. The Olympics are what they are, but I don’t think the modern era is much worse than any other.

  • Andrew

    Victor Conte, who knows a thing or two about it, suggests that 60% of competitors are doping.

    That’s what makes a farce of the amateur ideal, nothing else.

  • Regional

    Limpiks is for armchair voyeurs and has seriously disrupted the normal tourism trade.

  • So?

    The world needs a global spectacle every once in a while. If not the Olympics, then what?

  • Dizzy Ringo

    I was desperately sorry that Cavendish didn’t manage to get the gold. BUT I was gob smacked at the comments complaining about the lack of the support from the other teams to get Mark to the front. Not much of the traditional noble amateur there.

  • bob sykes

    The 1980 Olympics were the last I watched. Eventually, the pervasive corruption and professionalism became too offensive. Although I am an American, I was deeply offended by the Dream Team and rooted for their defeat. The Olympics are an evil that should be shut down. The communities that go bankrupt hosting them desire their financial pain.

  • JAWolf

    Bob, where were you so you could watch the 1980 games? They weren’t televised in the US.

  • Tedd


    Here is the list of current summer Olympic sports.


    The professional incarnations of a few of the sports listed attract substantial numbers of spectators. But I suspect you’d have a hard time finding people who had spectated at an amateur, non-Olympic incarnation of any of them (or even watched it on TV, other than during casual channel surfing), unless they were a former competitor or had a family member who competed.

  • andrewf

    On top of tennis, basketball and football as cited examples of sports with big spectator followings you would have to add: athletics, cycling, gymnastics, hockey, handball, swimming, beach volleyball. And that’s off the top of my head. To win the Olympics in those sports is the pinnacle of the sport (cycling excepted, but no one day specialist would say the olympic road race is meaningless). And if you think I’m wrong about those examples, well, I’d say you’re pretty ignorant of those sports and their followings.

  • “…sports with big spectator followings you would have to add: athletics, cycling, gymnastics, hockey, handball, swimming, beach volleyball.”

    “Handball” is a foul in association football. But just in case the argument really has to be made…

    What is the size of spectator following for the likes of football, cricket, rugby and tennis?

    What is the size of spectator following for the likes of handball, hockey, swimming and beach volleyball?

    Define “spectator following” pretty much any way you like, e.g. stadium attendences, television audience etc…