August 07, 2012 00:00
By Achara Debonmee
"Celebrate Humanity" has been the theme of the advertising campaign for the Olympic Games since 2000.
I enjoy the games as much anybody else, and I think the Olympics can teach us many things. I liked a tweet by Wit Sittivaekin, a former workaholic TV anchor: “Through the Olympics, we come to [the] realisation that our bodies can be exploited beyond sitting, sleeping, working in office, frantically updating Facebook or shopping.”
I couldn’t agree more. At the Olympic Games, records are broken to show how far humans can extend their physical and psychological limits, with both determination and technological assistance. Just recall how American swimmer Dana Vollmer set a world record and snatched the gold medal in the 100 metres butterfly. Praise also should go to Michael Phelps, another American swimmer who has becomes the most decorated Olympian of all time, with 21 medals.
In the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Phelps finished the 200 metre butterfly for a gold medal in the time of 1.54 minutes. In the 2007 World Championships, he finished the race in 1.52.09 before improving his time to 1.52.03 in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. In 2009 he won a gold medal at the World Championships in 1.51.51. Too bad that in London he earned only a silver medal at 1.53.01. But Phelps shows us how a person can improve through determination. He and all the other athletes are a true inspiration to all of us.
It is sad that we and the Thai government know this, but nothing can be done to improve the performance of Thai athletes, to inspire our children to a better future and national pride.
Thai athletes are still living with small financial support from the government or corporate world. Runners can’t afford good shoes. Kids with acrobatic skills can join gymnastic classes only if their parents are wealthy enough to pay for the trainers, only to leave it all behind when they get older and enroll in university.
But some have managed to stand out, despite the difficulties. And only after they beat athletes from other nations do they become heroees to their patriotic countrymen. Money flows in as a token of respect from the government while companies pay to have their name associated with the winners. No one asks why so few sponsors were there in the first place. With more support, our “heroes” could do better, and many more athletes could win medals in international arenas.
Two weeks before the Olympics started, there was a heated discussion over the televisionre-broadcasting signal, as the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) wanted to ensure that all Thais could watch the games. The NBTC succeeded with its “must carry” rule, and the signal reaches nearly all homes except for some watching via the old satellite TV system.
Under the TV pool, most of the broadcasted sports are those involving Thai athletes. That makes sense, but it is a shame that we did not extend the coverage as far as possible, as all the world’s best athletes are in London.
Channel 11 is advertising itself as the channel with the most extensive coverage. This may be so, but it is in exchange for advertisements sold exclusively through a company called CEO Channel. To this end, I wonder if, in the next four years, the NBTC will be able to convince the government to sponsor advertisement-free broadcasting of the games.
It would also help if the NBTC had the manpower to monitor Thai commentators. I have the luxury of watching ESPN, and its commentators share insight on sports rules and techniques. Some commentators in Thailand focus more on nonsense talk. In gymnastics, the female athletes have to fully spread their legs and suddenly drop all weight on the beam, and it was during such a moment that one commentator made comments about such a pose harming men’s sexual organs. When badminton player Ratchanok Intanon was up against her Chinese opponent, the commentator talked about the talisman around her neck and also prayed that the gods protecting Thailand would help her to win. It would have been better if he talked about experience and physical ability, rather than superstition.
Apparently, they don’t understand the true meaning of the games. This is for humanity and it is humanity alone that will make the achievements.