Olympic Insults and Cheap Chauvinism

Pedro Campos

Dayron Robles. Photo: juventudrebelde.cu

HAVANA TIMES — A recent article that appeared in the Juventud Rebelde (JR) newspaper was entitled “They Are Human Beings,” referring to the insults and criticism of stellar athlete Dayron Robles for failing to win a hoped-for Olympic gold medal, though just prior to the race he explained that he “was at a disadvantage because (he) hadn’t competed all season.”

The problem is that some of those critics, expressing the cheap chauvinism promoted by the official press, have sunk to their lowest points by denying stars like Dayron Robles the possibility of physical or psychic injury in the middle of competition.

Their jingoistic flag-waving fanaticism has nothing to do with healthy pride for the triumph of our fellow citizens in those and other games. Being a good competitor or spectator means recognizing the efforts and the glories of all athletes from all other nations, without the least bit of political bias, since those who compete there — as it was well put by the JR writer — are human beings.

The triumphs of all human beings over the challenges of speed, height, distance and the strengths and skills of others should be celebrated by everyone. It’s inspiring to see a victory by Cubans, but it shouldn’t be any less thrilling to see any other citizen of the world — whether they’re from the North or the South, black, white, Asian or mixed — breaking a world record. It was exciting to watch the Jamaicans taking first, second and third places in the 100-meter dash.

Enjoying the final match for the gold medal in the women’s volleyball competition between Brazil and the United States, many Cubans were thrilled over the success of Latin America’s Brazilian team, but more than a few recalled the rivalry between Brazil and Cuba and also rejoiced over the great defensive plays by the USA squad.

Unfortunately, the politicization that some people claim over everything in life — including sports — has gained quite a few addicts everywhere.

US athletes didn’t come there representing “the Empire”; they came representing their people, just like the Cuban athletes weren’t there representing the government but the people of Cuba.

I was struck by the height of this absurd politicization when I heard one Cuban rejoice that another Cuban lost because “the government would have taken credit for his victory.”

A politicized approach to sports prevents people from enjoying the spectacle in all its glory. The “anti-imperialist” who sees the US men’s basketball team as representative of the empire will not be able to enjoy the outstanding plays by the “dream team” and the unbelievable James LeBron.

Incidentally, though Cuban TV covered the Olympic Games, they didn’t show the final men’s basketball game between the US and Spain, what many people have called one of the greatest basketball games of all time. Let’s hope that blackout wasn’t due to “anti-imperialism.”

How long are we going to combine the internationalism that we profess with this chauvinism that has nothing to do with Marx (who saw the fight against capital as international) or Marti (for whom his homeland was humanity)?

What insults our athletes is that cheap chauvinism and vulgar fanaticism. Let’s rid ourselves of those.

One thought on “Olympic Insults and Cheap Chauvinism

  • As the acclaimed triumphs of the revolution (athletics, public health, education and culture) continue to deteriorate, it should be expected that the mouthpieces for the regime would most likely allay blame on the participants in these activities and not where the real blame lies, that being with the failure of the regime to sustain itself. Dayron Robles is a world-class high hurdler and should be well past the petty criticisms he received from state commentators. It is rumored that Usain Bolt offered him an opportunity to train in Jamaica full-time with the Jamaican team last year to prepare for this summer’s Olympics. Needless to say, the facilities, the training diet and regimen are the best available in the world. INDER, Cuba’s sports ministry rejected the offer allegedly because it would have required that Dayron sign a product endorsement contract. The results of that decision are tragically obvious. Jamaica takes the gold, silver and bronze in the 100 meters among other successes and Dayron comes up injured. Vive la revolucion!

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