June 26, 2008

The Campaign for Real Olympics continues

We're not far from that quadriannual "sports" fest called the Olympics, but again, in Greece, they have held the Nemean Games, in honour of the original Olympics Games as they have been held before the Christian Victorians took over and turned them into the current showcase for corporate apparel, pharmaceutical innovation and sorry jingoism.
Watch the BBC video of the Nemean Games.
Some attempts are being made to bring the spirit of individual, nude sport and glory back to its roots with the Nemean Games, a worthy but only partial successful attempt: the athletes wear clothes, and female competitions take place too.
From SFGate.com:
"The Olympics are returning to their original home in Greece but not to their original dress code.
"This may be the most obvious and striking difference between today's athletes and the ancient Greeks," UC Berkeley archaeologist Stephen Miller says in "Ancient Greek Athletics," his new book on the ancient games.
So embedded was competing in the nude that our word gymnasium comes from the Greek gymnos for "naked," Miller notes in the book, an in-depth account of a culture that loved to watch the well-proportioned bodies of young men, their skin glistening with olive oil, compete not for medals but for a sprig of olive or bunch of wild celery.
On a deeper level, Miller said, nude competition helped foster one of ancient Greece's best-known contributions to posterity -- democracy. Nudity, he said, erases marks of rank and privilege.
"It came to me that the locker room is inherently one of the most democratic places in human experience," he said, "and that -- at the very least -- Greek athletics provided an environment in which democracy could, and did, prosper."
"We do not know the origins of competition in the nude," he writes in the book, but we do know the custom helped doom the Olympics to disfavor when Rome took over the Mediterranean world."
In my opinion, the dear professor is completely missing the point of locker rooms and nude athletic competition: they do not promote democracy but foster competition and establish a hierarchy between males. Naked males are never equal. And that is the point of the nudity: you cannot hide any imperfections, so it steels you and spurs you to work and train harder. Democracy has nothing to do with it! But what it does do is encouraging bonding between males. Something every locker room still does today for team sports.
The Gay Games have missed the opportunity to go the whole way and recreate and non-Roman, non-Christian and completely pagan version of the Olympic Games: no clothes, no women, no teams.
A Campaign for Real Olympics anyone?

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