Over the past week Australia and possibly several other nations have engaged in much navel-gazing as athletes the public had been led to believe would come home from the London Olympics with Gold medals have ended up with silver. In some cases athletes who were expected to win a medal have ended up with nothing.
That is why sport is great, it mirrors life. So often events in our lives do not live up to expectation, so often we have an off day, and frequently someone is better than us. It frequently comes down to simply who was the best man on that one day, in that one minute, in those ten seconds. So should someone’s life be judged on such a minute period of time?
When all the excitement of the London Olympics dies down it is worth remembering that this was simply two weeks in these athletes’ lives. Yes, it was two weeks on which they had focused so much energy for a long period of time, but if the nation had expectations, what do we think they had?
The world we live in is a fast-paced disposable one, where many old values have been pushed aside and forgotten, because they do not seem to fit into what the marketers or what modern society tells us we have to be.
The London Games may well be a watershed in Olympic history where the Olympic ideal goes back to the vision that Baron Pierre de Coubertin had, where athletes from nations around the world come to compete and give their individual best. Some may win medals but others will win from the experience.
Many have pointed the finger at social media for the so-called disappointing performances; others have blamed the media for ‘hyping-up’ the athletes and their ability to bring home a medal. There is however one group of people who have so far been overlooked and who may well be at the root of the problem, these athletes’ managers.
Managers in modern sport are charged with raising an athlete’s profile, building their image, making them a marketable commodity and then arranging the best deals to secure their financial futures.
It used to be that those futures were based on success. A medal at the Olympic Games guaranteed immortality and much improved financial rewards from sponsorship deals. This time around we have witnessed athlete’s managers leveraging massive sponsorship deals prior to the Games, which have simply added to the public’s expectation of success; it will be interesting to see how the corporations they promote feel. In 2012 the rewards have come before the success, and that can never be a good thing.
Hopefully post London, the corporate World and the management of athletes with the ability to bring home Olympic medals will be a little more cautious and wait for that success before cashing in.
The Olympic Games should be a celebration of years of hard work culminating in pitting your self against the best from other nations around the world. Like every sport as long as you can walk away knowing that you gave your best and enjoyed the experience, that has to be worth more than any financial reward, doesn’t it?