Posted by: olymponomics | August 5, 2012

More on Olympic liminality

Further to my earlier discussion, one of the remarkable features of the Olympic Games as a liminal moment or space is how social and political elites (i.e. the Royals, the Prime Minister, Cabinet Ministers, Heads of State, the Mayor of London and other luminaries) flock to pay their respects (in the best seats of course) to the extra-ordinary feats of competitors. I choose the word extraordinary deliberately because most of the sports people taking the Olympics stage do not have the wealth or the celebrity status of others in the world of sports and entertainment (such as our vastly overpaid and over-pampered premiership footballers) and their exceptional achievements are the product of gruelling training regimes and personal commitment, often overcoming financial hardship as well (relying on funding at a level that your average premiership football might easily spend at a casino on Friday night). This breakdown is social hierarchy, as ordinary people doing extraordinary things take centre stage, is both compelling and inspiring, but on the same level the visible presence of elites (and their relentless pursuit of hand-shaking diplomacy, and hospitality) is a reminder of the ever-presence of political and economic power, and that once the Games are over normal service will be resumed.



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