Aug 012012

Someone, a friend whom I know to be anti-sport, emailed me the latest Leunig cartoon yesterday.

It’s a typically clever, typically whimsical Leunig take on mainstream madness.

Only this time, Leunig misses the point.

As does my friend, over and over again.

Mainstream media headlines are not the Olympics.

One, at their worst, is a bevy of hecklers out to spoil; at their best, they are the quieter insiders employed to illuminate for the uninitiated (which is just about all of the billion people tuned in to watch) the intricacies and delicacies of various sports.

Here’s why most of us tune in to the Olympics:   to watch years, sometimes decades, of devotion put to the ultimate test;   to watch people who do not win give 1000% and bow with true grace to the champion of the moment;   to watch hearts break and spirits soar;   to see rivals hug when the game is over;   to cheer the French relay when we didn’t even know the French could swim – when not even the French knew they could swim that ‘faster, higher, stronger’;   to watch archers who can win only on a bullseye breathe to absolute stillness, ‘slower, deeper, wiser’, to send an arrow arcing through the wind into the yellow centre of their target;   to watch cyclists who have given everything they have to give over miles and hours dig ‘deeper’ for a surge over the finish line to take the medal that has eluded them Olympics past;   to watch a sailor so in tune with the wind and water, the elements of our world, fly to Olympic glory perhaps for the fifth time;   to watch in awe as gymnasts trust their bodies so completely they will somersault above a 6 inch wooden beam and land with poise and elegance, their feet gripping the wood like the talons of an eagle;   to watch creative genius deliver us a three hour three dimensional history lesson that mesmerises and moves us, to laughter and to tears, and blasts us with a 27 million pound spectacle showcasing the imaginative brilliance that is the best our current crop of artistic visionaries has to offer;   to watch the athletes of Israel march into the stadium behind those from Iraq and Iran, because no-one quibbles the order of the alphabet.

The Olympic industry is not the Olympic spirit. Politics really do have no place in the pool or on the track. The true athlete, regardless of her or his chosen endeavour, is after perfection of form. Watch closely – for all that running around out there, the athlete is immovable at her centre. Gymnasts, archers, sailors, cyclists are all pivoting around the still and silent centre of their own being. The centre does not move.

This is the art. This is the ‘slower, deeper, wiser’ point of delivery and the purpose of all that hard work.

Sport teaches us focus, motivation, discipline, co-ordination, teamwork and love, yes even love. For it is only the lover’s heart that can honestly break. And my mother can point out for you who among our politicians has never played sport – they are the ones who turn nasty when they do not get their own way, when they do not ‘win’, when after all is said and done they ‘lose’.

For all these reasons and one other, Leunig’s little dart misses the point: his coloured rings are not connected. In the universally recognised Olympic symbol, the five rings, representing the five inhabited continents of our small world, are connected. Inter-linked. Belonging, and accountable, to each other.

If Leunig were to transpose his two images, one onto the other, he would have a new box:  Our World.


 August 1, 2012  Tagged with: , , ,  1 Response »