why is basketball in the olympics?

Back at last.  Bolggin ain’t easy.  Well, it sort of is, but when you spend 8-9 hours a day at work staring at a computer screen, the last thing you wanna do when you get home is sit in front of another one.  If only someone could figure out how to write without using a computer…oh, wait, yea…I suppose there’s the old pen and paper.  But the only posting I can do with those relics is on the fridge door.

Anyways, to shake the rust off my key-stroking digits, I thought I’d spout off a little on the XXX Olympics.  No, this isn’t my impressions of the some competitive porno-flick; its a look at the London Olympics, sans lewd Roman numerals.  I turn now to basketball.

How the heck is basketball an olympic sport? Anyone? Anyone?

My gut answer is money and attention (for the olympics, not players).  High profile stars, packed arenas, and TV viewers galore.  The NBA provides a ready-made worldwide audience, just salivating at the thought of Kobe, Lebron and the like sharing court and jersey.  But I thought the Olympic games stood for sheer love and commitment to the sport, and pure competition?  I thought it was a place for amateurs- amateurish in the sense that no one had to pay these athletes to keep them in the gym.  Olympians trained for the dream.  Not for multi-million dollar contracts.

I have two good friends who have spent the past few years training to qualify for the flat-water kayaking events.  Unfortunately, they came up just shy of making it to London.  These guys trained early and often, and were the embodiment of sacrifice and dedication.  They fundraised and scraped together all the support they could just to subsidize their efforts.  These guys are true olympic athletes.  Non-professionals, taking on the world.

I watch the basketball games and they are complete jokes.  I don’t know how the US player keep straight faces in post-game interviews.  They tell the press that despite the massive blowout they just dropped on Albania, the game was tough and they have much to improve upon.  Then they say they can’t take the next game lightly, and anything can happen.  I laugh.  These guys will face more difficulties eating a slice of cake than dunking over some Greek, Serb or Spaniard.

I turn now to my friend, the Interweb, to see if she can make any sense of this whole affair.  Apparently, 1936 was the official entrance of the game into the Olympic arena.  It wasn’t until 1992, however, that the US began sending professionals, oh, and one collegiate player.  This was the birth of the dream team, and the degradation, in my opinion, of all that is the Olympic games.  

I conclude this post not with a definite answer to the question I set forth, nor with any firm statistics to back up my gut feeling.  I guess the title should have been something closer to “why I think it basketball as an olympic sport is stupid.”  I’m sure the players are genuinely honored by the chance to represent their country on the world stage.  I’m also sure it’s overall a good thing for the games to have recognizable names.  I’m just not so sure if the blowouts, faux competition, and highly compensated athletes are aligned with the spirit of the games.

If google sent you here from a search of “why basketball in in the olympics,” I apologize that you have been met with this diatribe.  Alas, this is but a blog. 

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