A search of “why you should not watch the Olympics” returns endless pages of reasons you should actually watch the Olympics. These articles are mostly a lot of fluff and excitement. The main reason that continues across the board is national pride. If that is so, then here is a crystal clear example of why pride is one of the seven deadly sins.   

The feel good stories and rah rah team spirit aren’t enough. There really is no good reason the Brazil Olympics should even take place.

The Olympic games are supposed to promote international peace.

Sports might be less violent than war, but not by much. Soccer turned pretty violent in France after the World Cup, and has contributed to fierce in-fighting between governments. It can only be imagined how bad things could get in South America. A bunch of rabid fans cheering for a team is somewhat like cheering for a country to win never ending wars. Besides, if the Olympics are about non-violence, then nations actively participating in war should not be allowed to participate.

This year’s Olympics in Rio, have anything but peace as a goal. It is apparent that if violence breaks out, Brazil is not equipped to deal with it. The country already has one of the highest murder rates in the world and now police are saying they haven’t been paid in months and are warning that tourists will not be safe. Whether ISIS or some other group stands to benefit from creating violence at the Olympics, Brazil has made itself a nice target.

The Olympic games are a conduit to promote the host country.

The good news is that Brazil has achieved a lot of visibility. However, almost none of it is positive and it’s not just Brazil’s problem either. This article that slammed the choice of Beijing as the 2022 Winter Olympic host city, also noted that it is probably the only real choice because no other city wants the Olympics. No one can afford the price tag or the decimation of their cities. The reality of modern Olympics is that cities and nations are finding the controversies to be more debilitating than any positive exposure they may get.

The Olympic games are to cast a spotlight on amateur athletics.

Well, that used to be the case. Amateur sports are not about the money, supposedly. Olympics are the epitome of big money sports and each cycle more and more professional athletes are added to the fold, such that the Olympics now are basically another world championship tournament.

The Olympic games are there to promote activity and good health in participants and viewers alike.  

This may work, so long as everyone only watches the major media coverage. Behind the scenes, the high level of competition is relatively dangerous for participants. After Hollie Avil and Shawn Johnson retired, out came rather disconcerting stories about their eating disorders from young ages and the suggestion that it is a common issue in gymnastics.

Doping scandals are a consistent problem in all sports. The only surprises are which athletes get busted. This year, all but two members of the Russian track and field team have been banned. Though the Russians always seem to be at the center of doping controversies, virtually every country has a dark history. The Australian government claimed that every winner of the 1980 Olympics was on at least one drug and referred to them as the Chemists’ Games. In 1984, the International Olympic Committee was not granted a safe, so test results were stolen and not many athletes were caught, though the US cycling team was later found to have had a major blood transfusion ring. Since the 2000 Olympics, the lists of banned athletes and stripped medals has been almost impossible to keep track of.

And if players trying to get an extra advantage is bad, what about countries taking extra risks? In Brazil, there are a number of health concerns, including Zika and raw sewage. The US isn’t specifically forcing its athletes to attend the games, but also isn’t forfeiting or protesting conditions.

Fortunately, as the richest country in the world, third-tier US athletes are better than most countries’ best athletes. That means athletes like Jordan Spieth have the opportunity to stay home because of health concerns. He said it’s not specifically because of the Zika virus, yet 18 other athletes have elected to stay home, mostly due to Zika.

Props to American athletes for taking a stand, but what about the countries that can’t afford to miss their one chance for a medal and force their athlete(s) to participate? American success doesn’t translate well to an underprivileged nation’s rare opportunities.

It’s clear that the situation is bad enough to allow athletes the chance to stay home, yet the US is not encouraging everyone to stay home. Here is a virus that no one knows how bad it is, only that it is probably dangerous for pregnant women and has a rather concerted effort being made to keep workers safe. We also know that the best way to deal with it is to reduce human contact with mosquitoes. Yet, millions of people will flock to Rio anyway.

Then there is also the raw sewage in water used for water sports. Body parts washed up on the volleyball beach, which is just a footnote in the problems Brazil is facing as host nation. Basically, the most active people in the world will be on parade in a subpar environment. It’s not responsible, but the public narrative is that it’s safe. The simple fact is that no one really knows. Hopefully, steroid tainted blood isn’t attractive to mosquitoes.

The only thing worse than all the atrocities of the Olympics is that people that continue to support it. Someone could call me bitter for not being that privileged, rich person that can do superhuman feats. Sometimes I wish my life was that easy that I could do whatever I wanted and felt totally invincible. However, there is something to be said for furthering injustice.

It’s hard to be the buzzkill, or the parent that won’t let their kid go on the field trip, or the teacher that grades the paper too hard. But, at the same time, continuing to support things like the Olympics, is continuing to support the divisive, polarizing nature of humanity that keeps people tied down.