Let's pray for Olympic cock-ups rather than sporting glories

Going for gold: London 2012 banners being put up outside the Olympic stadium
Going for gold: London 2012 banners being put up outside the Olympic stadiumCanadian Press/Rex Features

Ah, the Olympics and their aspiration towards excellence, both on and off the field.

What this is supposed to mean is the celebration of greatness, encouraging the younger generation to do better things, and even the current one to up their game a bit. How it actually works in practise is quite different, however.

As with other major sporting events that are held at regular intervals across the world, those who are part of the International Olympic Committee seem to be vastly overpaid, sleazing their way across continents and picking up perks like pigs whose noses have been super-glued to the trough.

This horrific display of crapulence will be stretched to the nth degree when the £27m Opening Ceremony takes place this evening – dignitaries from the hundreds of countries taking part then expensively wined and dined over the next several weeks.

Of course, the actual stars of the events won’t be paid or pampered for their services, instead making do with the “glory” of taking part. Meanwhile thousands will be contracted on minimal wages to make the whole thing run smoothly, with the homeless and other undesirables shifted out of view so nobody feels too guilty about basking in the overall opulence.

But never mind that, there’s more important things to be worrying about. Like medals! And winning as many as possible!

Now that we’re on home soil, Team GB are expected to do better than at the last Olympics, with expectations high.

Most strangely, this year we seem to be doing markedly better on the world stage. Bradley Wiggins superbly won the Tour de France, Andy Murray did everyone proud with a fantastic Wimbledon run, the English cricket team has performed excellently – along with other notable achievements be British stars in 2012, all seems to be pointing to an epic haul of silverware over the next few weeks.

However, we ought to hang our heads in shame if that’s what we’re most looking forward to.

After all, how can we teach our kids that it’s the taking part that counts, when we’re worshipping those freakish examples of fitness who have been trained from such an early age that it’s absolutely impossible to match their success?

Even if you yourself had been placed in a similar regime, then your genetics would still have failed you. Much has been made of the physical attributes (height, foot size, laser eyes, fully functioning wings) that the top athletes, swimmers, etc need to possess to even stand a chance of making their respective finals nowadays.

Instead, we should concentrate on the best moment(s) of any event that takes place on a massive scale, such as the Olympics – the good old-fashioned cock-up.

There’s nothing quite so splendid as months or even years of intricate planning being put in place, only for a hapless individual to completely balls up the entire thing through a moment of stunning ineptitude.

After all, it proves that we’re flawed and therefore human, and that our glories will always pale into insignificance compared to the appalling and deliriously silly mistakes we make. (For examples of this, check which is most widely appealing out of 100 Greatest Football Gaffes and 100 Greatest Football Glories.)

Hence why it’s so welcome that off-the-field Team GB has already stepped up to the plate even before proceedings have properly started, with Hampden Park’s errant scoreboard almost helping send the Korean countries back into political meltdown, and the flagship cable car breaking down in London.

Now THAT's more like it. Massive embarrassment caused, lots of red faces and hurried apologies, it’s exactly what we crave – and what the world expects from us. With that in mind, here’s a few more suggestions:

  • Prince Charles to accidentally step on the Queen’s skirt, ripping it off and revealing her petticoat. Prince Phillip then to knock her over as he races to cover her shame (slipping over a stray gherkin in the process).
  • Usain Bolt to turn up for the shot put event having been given the wrong itinerary by officials. (Still managing to get bronze.)
  • Marathon runners to be sent on wrong route, the competitors only realising the mistake as they stop to take in the tantalising bargains on offer in the Camden Market.
  • A burst water pipe to mean that the beach volleyball becomes something more akin to swamp polo, matches eventually abandoned and results settled by a game of darts at the nearest local. (Females still wearing tight bikinis, thusly ensuring that it’s the most popular televised event of the Olympics.)

Anyway, those are just a few suggestions. I have every faith that we can succeed where we ought to, by ignoring those "proper" successes which actually mean very little indeed. Go Team GB!

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Devil’s Advocate is a regular column assuming an alternate viewpoint on a topical subject of the week.

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