I stopped watching the Athens Olympics long before the end. A huge fan of the Winter Olympics, I’ve devoted slightly less attention to the Summer Games over the years. In the future, I suspect I will not be watching any of the Summer Olympics.
I dropped out of watching pro sports when the money overwhelmed the sport. I dropped out of college sports for the same reason. Now with the Olympics bestowing winning athletes with endorsements that crowd out the medals, I think this may be my last Summer Games. What is at stake is not simply being the best at what you do, but turning medals into lucrative deals.
Is it me or is everyone doped up on some chemical in these Games? How many medals have been stripped away? The Wall Street Journal did an interesting piece a few days ago noting how some of the winners in this Olympics were perpetual also-rans, sporting middling times and scores for years, only to suddenly show a burst in speed and skill in just the last few months leading up to the event they later won. In women’s weightlifting, the three top finishers showed ludicrous amounts of improvement since Sydney, numbers that should cause people to scratch their heads (or in the case of some of those competitors, their beards.) Others have noted that if one athlete on a team in a single sport is a human test tube, the coaches of that team are probably doping the rest, too; those others simply did not get caught.
Should we even go into the judging fiascos? Years ago during the Cold War, we knew their judges were ripping us off, and they knew it of ours, too. But now with so much money at stake, a couple thousandths of a point here and there translates into millions of potential dollars—or not, if you happen to be the one who irked the Malaysian judge by putting on your right shoe first while waiting for your score rather than the left one. (You just don’t know how twitchy anyone is anymore.)
No one truly worries about fairness. Does Nike hire you to shill their shoes simply because you play fair? If that were true, then there should be a knock at my door any second now. Nope, even “amateur” sports is about staking your claim in the Q-ratings so you can get your mug plastered on the side of a downtown bus. Check out the milk moustaches on Kerri Walsh and Misty May!
So I’m done.
The Bible says:
Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to those with knowledge, but time and chance happen to them all.
Sometimes the best winds up number two. Sometimes the genius ends his life living in poverty. It’s not fair, but it is part of being human. We hate to see it, but are glad when it is not us—at least we like to think it won’t be us one day.
Truth is, we Christians must always live this side of heaven as the also-rans. Living to serve the Lord puts us in an automatic number two position. Living to serve others bumps us down even more. It is not ours to ask the Lord to sit on His left or right, but simply to do His will.
The young missionary who floats speared to death in an Ecuadorian river is not seeking fairness. The elderly man living in the ghetto who gave the best years of his life handing out food to those even poorer than himself does not ask to be justified in his actions. The minister who cleans up the remains of a teen suicide so the parents will not see the outcome will never question the fact that the media ignores his act of kindness. The woman who exists to many today only as a tarnished brass plaque beneath a stained glass window, but who taught little boys and girls about Jesus for fifty years, does not mind that her name continues to fade from church memories as the generations go on. All of them have a greater reward.
Fairness is not ours to demand.