When the first occurrence of the modern Summer Olympics was held in Athens in 1896, the Games’ organizers intended the Olympics to bring the people of the world together and promote ethics and goodwill amongst mankind. The Olympic Games wasn’t put together by a marketing firm or television network. It didn’t answer to shareholders. Throughout its history (perhaps most notably in 1936 and 1968), it has helped raise awareness of social issues not by premade PSA TV spots, but by athletes taking hard stands against oppression.
(Every 4 years, the world’s elite athletes converge…)
Those days are of course long gone, if they ever truly existed. Between political protest (1980 and 1984), commercialism (the Games have been a majorly profitable enterprise since 1984), and the everpresent steroids issue, the Olympics have become nothing more than an overproduced commercial product designed to maximize TV ratings and profits. How else could you explain the International Olympic Committee’s decision to consider adding golf to the 2016 (Chicago!) Summer Olympics?
It happens every time - the IOC wants to maximize revenue and ratings by hopping on the latest sports bandwagon. With Tigermania gripping the (ad space of the) nation and countries like China, Russia, and India flush with new money, golf is poised to become the sport of the elite worldwide. According to GOLFWEEK:
The International Olympic Committee’s executive committee meets [August 12] in Berlin, and members will recommend two sports for possible addition to the 2016 Olympic Games. Seven sports – baseball, golf, karate, roller sports, rugby, softball and squash – are under consideration. The committee’s choices will go before the full IOC membership for a final vote in October in Copenhagen.
If golf is selected, it would make a return to the Summer Games after a 112-year absence. The sport made its first – and thus far only – appearance in the Olympics in St. Louis in 1904.
The game’s appearance at the 1904 St. Louis games was something of an anomaly - only a few nations showed up to the event in the country’s hinterland, and 90% of the 650 athletes were American. Since then, the game was seen as too contrary to the Olympic Charter to be a part of the Games; after all, it is a sport played mostly by the privileged, hardly a way to bring the world together.
But in the 21st century, golf stands a great chance of becoming part of the Games. Its fans have lots of money to spend on products advertised during the Olympics, and the game stands to make millions of new fans in the growing middle classes of the developing world. The only people who lose are the less-fortunate ones that the Olympic Charter was supposed to help support…but those poor bums don’t even own TVs, so to hell with them.