Sochi Games Shrouded in Fog of Fear

The Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia have officially begun, although the “opening ceremonies” will be broadcast tonight on the TeeVee. Every four years, a narrative develops about each subsequent Games. The story of the 2014 games seems to be fear.

The original intent of the Olympics, we’ve been told, was to promote competition and goodwill among nations around the globe. We all know that’s a bucket of horse puckey, don’t we? The archetype for our modern Olympics began in ancient Greece, taking place in the context of a religious festival; all events were held in honor of Zeus, and included the sacrificing of a hundred oxen in his honor. The athletes all prayed to the gods for victory and gave gifts of animals, produce, or small cakes in thanks for their successes. Today’s oblations are to the corporate sponsors that make the world go round, including international sports competitions.

Playing both the fear and financial angles.

NBC–cashing in at Sochi

The worship now centers on how much money can be extracted from the entire process. It’s commercialism run amok, with geopolitical tensions and propaganda thrown in for good measure.

None of this is new to me. Still,  I can’t help having some interest in the Sochi Games, as my interest in all things Olympic dates back to the first Winter Games I would have followed, which if my chronology is correct were in Sapporo, Japan, in 1972; I was 10-years-old and captivated mainly by the hockey, but I watched the skiing, and yes, the figure skating. The names from that winter have all but been forgotten, but still reside in my memory. The U.S. men’s hockey team won a silver, beaten by the dreaded Soviets and world class goalie, Vladislav Tretyak. I hated hearing his name, as in, “save by Tretyak.”

Eight years more years of waiting would be required for the “Miracle on Ice” to occur in 1980. I would watch the game in my parent’s basement with my girlfriend, Mary. We were seniors in high school. Tretyak, the greatest goaltender in the world would be upstaged by the unknown (at the time), Jim Craig, in net for Team USA.

For the past few weeks, the NBC Evening News and commentator, Brian Williams, have led with stories about the apparent, impending danger faced by athletes and their families; several families have opted to forgo attending the Sochi Games in Russia. Several members of congress have come out and made statements about the danger, including Maine’s Angus King.

Each time I’ve heard one of these, I’ve asked myself, “why are these being run out here every night?” There’s something else going on than mere reporting of the news. What is it? Could fear-fogging be this year’s newest Olympic sport?

While the Olympic site in Sochi is being portrayed as a danger zone, especially areas in Russia outside what has been called  the “ring of steel”— a secured boundary 60 miles long and 25 miles wide where residents, visitors, athletes and vendors will be subjected to near-total surveillance. Fear produces a effect, which then leads humans to capitulate and acquiesce to their total loss of freedom and liberty. Fear fogging and the need for more surveillance and “protection” go hand in hand–that and the indiscriminate use of the term, “terrorism.”

Maine’s own hometown hero, Seth Westcott, has been affected by the fear foggers. While a knee injury ultimately kept him from his usual level of performance and prevented him from qualifying, he made statements to The Portland Press Herald in late December about the security at the games.

“When you have a radical group saying they will do everything in their power to disrupt the games … what is the first opportunity with the most impact? To me, that’s the opening ceremonies,” said Wescott . “I am very concerned.”

He has since indicated he would not be attending, even as a commentator for NBC Sports,the network broadcasting coverage of the Sochi Games. Even rugged Mainers are not immune to fear.

In thinking about the run up to Sochi, I believe we have a concerted effort by the US government and the Western media to attempt to turn the event into a humiliation for the Russian government, amid the growing conflicts between Washington and Moscow in the Middle East and Eastern Europe.

While it’s difficult to find any kind of intelligent analysis, the JBE was able to root out a decent piece of actual journalism by Andrea Peters, on the World Socialist Web Site. Of course, hardliners on the right will discredit it, as it’s not from Fox; lefties will dismiss it because it didn’t come from the lips of Rachel Maddow, or Chris Matthews. Actually, you’d have to wait until hell (or the Black Sea) freezes over to get any real journalism from those kinds of mainstream sources.

Even Dave Zirin, a journalist I’ve lauded for his edgy sports coverage, jumped on the bash Russia bandwagon for The Nation, becoming just another propagandist for the US and its global hypocrisy. These very same left-leaning journalists are mum about “thuggish” behavior from our own drone-strike-ordering president.

As for fear, another Seth–this one looking to push past fear–posted something I found pertinent to the topic of fear. Seth Godin nailed it in a post last week titled, “The four horsemen of mediocrity”; “The good news about fear is that once you see it, feel it and dance with it, you have a huge opportunity, the chance to make it better.”

Dance with your fear today! It surely trumps being mediocre.

2 thoughts on “Sochi Games Shrouded in Fog of Fear

  1. OK, so first I have to admit I’m so out of the loop that I didn’t know that Sochi was an Olympic-hosting city until maybe a month ago. I thought it was an antiperspirant or something else people “shared” on Facebook, like recipes for chocolate chip cookies or coupons for Subway sandwiches. Reading about the “ring of steel” and seeing Putin with a machine gun in my mind’s eye completes the surreal movie. Fear fogging would make a great Olympic event.

  2. Fear-fogging has now been replaced by extracting as much capital from the commercialization of the Games as possible. In fact, it’s been nearly impossible for me to tell where the sports end and the Visa and Verizon commercials begin. The entire spectacle is like one big infomercial.

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