Smith: What constitutes news goes sideways during the Olympics

Have you seen the pictures of Curiosity landing on Mars? What about Usain Bolt's win? If the second sounds more familiar, you're not alone

  • Aug. 10, 2012 11:00 a.m.

As a transplant to the Okanagan who might have stopped by the Apple Triathlon once or twice to watch the athletes cross the line, it was neat to see a few familiar faces in Great Britain this week.

Triathlon, unfortunately, turned out to be a bit of a disaster for the Canada Olympic team. Paula Findlay delivered a heartbreaking performance with her last place finish, however predictable it now seems to have been, and Simon Whitfield hit more of a career-ender than a speed bump when he fell over one of the road humps in his race, crashing out of the Games.

This is what the Olympics is all about, though; it’s two weeks of emotional highs and lows. Or this is the line we’re sold.

For individual athletes, no one really doubts there’s a lifetime of hard work and dedication at play, but as more people book out of network television, lured by the Internet and freedom from ridiculous cable bills, the plot becomes less enthralling.

And if ever there was reason to question the whole event, it was the day NASA managed to land the Curiosity rover on Mars and we all had to wait 15 minutes into newscasts to hear about it as sprinter Usain Bolt had won the Olympic 100-metre dash.

The earth has a few problems these days: global warming, death of biodiversity, famine and so forth. Exploration of the universe and developing an understanding of what makes it tick seems, therefore, pretty relevant to everyone’s lives.

Yet as democracy seems to forever play second-fiddle to corporate greed, the Olympic Games gets higher play from newscasters than something capable of shaping the future of humanity.

Whether one is the type to follow the ins and outs of the Enbridge Oil Pipeline debate or not, this type of news judgement must seem off kilter.

Profits being paramount, we’ll likely wait some time to see Curiosity headline the news, however ironic sidelining a scientific venture dubbed “curiosity” for one of the most predictable ventures of man or beast—yep, the fastest person wins, every time.

When the Olympics is over, we’ve finally put the lid on the strange apologies from athletes for “letting down the nation,” and a few more people have cancelled capable television, images from Mars will suddenly become the hottest ticket in town.

Perhaps someone could get the ball rolling by tracking down a little audio of the scientists’ moms cheering them on and produce a few vignettes on their struggles as gawky, genius teens.

Kelowna Capital News