Now, I’m not about to say that the Olympics have been without fault. I mean, there was the virtual ignoring of the critical mass arrests, any kind of nationalism will always make me a little uncomfortable, and all the problems people had with corporate interference don’t go away just because athletes started winning medals.
But, considering my inherent lack of interest in any kind of sport (PE was basically an excuse to talk about last night’s TV while “in defence”), I have always loved the Olympics. And since I’ve also always loved London, this year just brings those things together into one big party. It’s sort of like that time I found out Starkid’s Darren Criss would play Kurt’s love interest in Glee, before it got crap. Two totally unrelated but awesome things suddenly fused into one.
Here are seven reasons why, even though sport confuses and frightens me, I am still constantly glued to the Olympics.
1. It is full, in the words of Aidan Burley, of “leftie multicultural crap”. Countries coming together under one flag, (almost) everyone being sporting, that fantastic opening ceremony which was like a socialist wet dream. Free healthcare! Free internet! Free Kenneth Brannagh in a hat!
2. Not knowing a thing about sport means that everything seems amazing. People diving in perfect synchronicity? Doing somersaults on the uneven bars? Understanding the rules of judo? I don’t know how any of them do any of it.
3. It is not the traditional, but the weird obscure sports that everyone gets excited about. No one could care less about the football, but canoeing? That got up to 4.5m viewers yesterday, with cycling up to 8.1m. That is some nail-biting stuff.
4. Social media goes crazy. Everyone is in a good mood, and there are so many opportunities for hilarity if not much is happening with all the sport. Anything which can lead to this cannot be a bad thing.
5. The opportunity to play a once-in-a-lifetime drinking game, during which you drink every time someone says “once-in-a-lifetime”. Played during the opening ceremony with some success.
6. You can make a tonne of Hunger Games references. I mean, come on, it’s happening in the capital and “the Games” are all anybody talks about. All they need is for Katniss to say something inappropriate, a camouflage event for Peeta, a few children murdering each other, and it will be perfect.
7. It’s all about storytelling. The Olympics coverage from the BBC is really good at presenting the athletes as individuals, and they all have families, sacrifices, rivalries, dreams – and you actually care whether they achieve them or not. I have never had any interest in judo before, but when Gemma Gibbons won her semi-final I actually teared up a bit. At SPORT. This coming from someone who didn’t even cry at Toy Story 3, and has been branded “soulless” ever since. And if that doesn’t prove something, I don’t know what does.