What You See Is What You Get. This is a journal blog, an explore-blog, a bit of this and that blog. Sharing where the mood takes me. Perhaps it will take you too.

Menolyrical; Final Friday Fiction

Welcome, dear readers, to the close of another month and the writing invention that brings. 

Way back at the beginning of the century (golly, one can talk historically even within one's own lifetime because an entire generation has arisen since then...), there was a major, global event that took place in my home city of Sydney.  There was a wonderful atmosphere - but it was not economically sound. It is such a momentous thing; it only takes place once every four years. Unless there's a delay...

If you can stand it, I took to recording. (That's the link in case the player doesn't work here for you.) I tried three different audio versions but none would load - so you're faced with my face... 😶 

It might be better with headphones - or left unplayed.

It's combat, but the friendly kind
or so they keep trying to sell
From the Americas, north and south
to Africa dark through Europe via
Oceanic islands and the Asiatic swell

It's combat, but not as we think it
the only weapon is prowess
showing just how fast, how high, how strong
even the guns, the arrows, the epee
and foil are brandished in staged togetherness

It's combat... the commercial kind
at least that's the marketing tag
on the backs and arms and legs and lungs
of the soldiers no, athletes, their nations
gather-in whatever they can from the available swag

It's combat, the political sort
couched in diplomatic bunting
the pawns no, athletes only focus
is to attain their personal best
the lure of precious metal keeps them hunting

It's combat, by all its contest names
can we really envision whether
the value is of benefit to all 
true to the Olympic siren call...
Faster, Higher, Stronger - and all in it Together

It's combat and draws in many threads
from the fabric of society
a kind of magic tapestry appears
bringing forth surprising joy and tears
or moments of empathetic sobriety

It's combat, and like all fields of clash
there are deep and darkly issues
but is there anything else that's truly global
with fifty sports and two-oh-five nations
plus one - refugee successes requiring tissues

It's combat for sixteen plus two days
flags raised, the competition rages
minnow states make their mark, knock the elite
as the world watches, gets so immersed
for a while, forget their hunger or need of wages

It's combat, by any other name
even twenty-one remains twenty
won't be stopped by pandemic or protest
for these are The Games, times of unity
there must be triumph having spent plenty

It's combat; the teams keen to gather
flags and uniforms displayed with pride
all said and done, never mind wheels and deals
it's about them, the warriors, no athletes
and for us - supporting, together, no matter the side.

© Yamini Ali MacLean July 2021

Apart from war, nothing storms the mind so much as national sports rivalry. It stirs patriotism, ostentation and even hysteria. Sports participants are given the status of superheroes. Yet questions arise as to how much money is squandered - by governments and private enterprises on global events such as these. There may be an argument for the IOC getting a big shakeup - it needs to come into the 21st century as much as its motto does. Countries need to be better served to not have to go into a spiral of debt (most never produced a positive economic outcome - "with the exception of Barcelona 1992, no modern Games has raised a host city’s rate of economic growth, levels of skills and employment, tourist income or productivity." D. Goldblatt, The Guardian.) Nor should the citizens of the host suffer from lessened circumstances because of them. 

As an example of the greed of the IOC, where previously the O's were mostly available in various ways for free viewing, this year their money grab, at least for European telecast rights, has extended to selling those rights to a USA company for $920m and that company will, of course, seek to fleece the viewers...

... or we sports fanatics have to go cold turkey and just read about the events we would have loved to have watched.

That there is a place for the sports themselves and galas and regattas to be organised, I have no doubt, for so much exhilaration is gained and there is some small sense of a truly global village at such times. This is important. What needs to be removed is the autocratic control and privileged expectation that currently exists. There needs to be a genuine - truly deep and meaningful - effort made to move to sustainability when hosting the events - and travelling to them. 

That's my opinion - what say you?


  1. Oh don't get me started....as a one time sports coach to children because i believed sporting activity should be available to all as a pursuit of enjoyment in physical movement, social contact etc i was appalled at the extent to which many sports focussed only on the potential elites, and dropped the 'happy exercisers' because they would produce no 'results'. Tiggers FFF https://tiggerswee-blog.blogspot.com/2021/07/the-cat-who-came-in-from-cold.html Furring and purrings F & Mr T

    1. Hari OM
      It's so true... and that very grass-roots activity took a very poor turn when 'turning professional' became an option. To my mind, the activity is no longer a sport but an occupational task... Yxx

  2. what a wonderful post... and we follow THIS owlympigs because they are something extra special... it shows that we are still there after that worldwide disaster... and we are so proud that a blogville member is there and works for da horse department ;O)

  3. I like the thought provoking poem, but haven't much engaged with these Olympics so far, due to travelling, staying with friends who are mostly uninterested in televised sport, and then on return to Aberdeen feeling the need to exercise my own body! Looking forward though to watching some of the track cycling, and on the athletics field, to seeing how Jemma Reekie performs.
    Cheers, Gail.

  4. What a treat to see and hear you reading! We love watching the best athletes in the world and they are all so young and so gifted. We feel the Olympic games are privilege to see and honestly, I've enjoyed them all my life.

  5. I agree with every word you said here, even though I don't follow the olympics. bob does and i see and hear a lot of it without watching. the poem is fabulous...

  6. The power of sport is now so great that it's commercialisation is inevitable, and actually, I think not all bad so long as we can keep it in perspective. Some aspects of commercialism have provided opportunity, raised standards, widened awareness - in this way sport can often be a force for good.
    It's politicisation, however, is another matter. Sport for political prestige, for propaganda, for nationalism above internationalism, for division over diversity - these traits are especially troublesome, and when we see it spill over in violence (football is often ugly and tribal) we see the ugly side of these traits. It is equally ugly though to think of young athletes drugged and over-trained for the prestige of certain regimes. Interestingly though,(and drug taking aside) it is the spectators more than the participants who generally behave inappropriately.
    I spent many years as chair of what is now Canoe Wales and was involved in funding through Sports Council - there was always a tension between the resources and support allocated to "sport for all and facilities' versus 'elite sport'. It was my view that too much emphasis was given to elite attainment (in part because many of the people at sports council are former athletes, impacting its ethos and culture)- but there is no science behind this and the reality is that we need both.
    As an aside, I often sense we over value sport in relation to other beneficial activities - the arts for example - but again, I may be displaying preferences rather than objectivity here - I guess Hollywoood gets a lot of attention too!
    And as for the beautifully read poem. It reminds me that the word Combat has two meanings - to engage in battle, but also to overcome and to heal. The best of sport does both.

    1. Hari OM
      You have beautifully rephrased what I was attempting in my hastily composed words; sport ultimately must be for all and I have no objection to athletes earning from it as such - but I most definitely detest the elitism and the excess commercialism that has nothing whatsoever to do with the actual performance, whatever the discipline. I greatly admire Simone Biles for having added so strongly to the awareness of the effects upon the competitors as a result of that commercial demand - and indeed, as you say, from the 'fans' themselves. But the fact that we cannot see anything more than the BBC could afford to pay for detracts greatly from this being 'the people's games'... as for social, or even county sports funding - I don't doubt there is much 'combat' regarding that! I agree there is an unevenness - arts so very often are at the bottom of the list. Yxx

  7. I meant also to say that sport has a hugely vicarious capacity to it. When we watch our heroes winning or scoring, as some deep level it is not them but us who is on the pitch, who is victorious or otherwise. It why we cheer so loudly at the TV, why football fans talk of their team using the terms We and Us and why we weep in defeat. The psychology of sport is fascinating and powerful too.

    1. Hari OM
      ...true to some degree; as a school gymnast and swimmer, erstwhile equestrian and keen cyclist (in youth), one does feel one's muscles working with the competitors - but then again, I think there is a lot of the 'nationalism' that you mentioned above for many spectators... definitely powerful! Yxx

  8. YAM you have out done yourself with this one. 87 standing ovations OMCs how you came up with all the verses.
    I loved hearing your sweet voice and you picked a very pretty blue top for your reading
    Hugs Cecilia

  9. It was so lovely to hear your voice. I am not a sports fan of any sport. I do see some value in it, but the commercializations of it etc makes me unhappy shall we say.

  10. Wonderful and thought provoking Olympic poem!!

  11. We loved hearing your poem read by you, especially since we've never heard you before. We do enjoy watching the Olympics but the time difference makes it a bit difficult although we don't have to pay extra over our cable rates to see the recorded events.

  12. Mom gets a little worked up about the Olympics. She did not realize how political they were until Calgary got the winter Olympics back in 1988. The software company she worked for was involved in tracking the scoring. She has been very disappointed in the IOC ever since and seldom watches any of the festivities or matches.
    We have the internet back, until the wind changes and it goes up in flames again. This is another business/politics thing! Mom was gone for 2 weeks (her aunt did not have the internet) so when she got home and discovered that ours was gone, she was already un-plugged. We are sure that we are going to have difficulties in getting her to help us with our blog. We are so very thankful for our blogging furrends. I was so very happy that Ann and June threw my birthday pawty for me! It was so very exciting! Thank you for attending! We have missed you!

    1. Hari OM
      Dear Mum Barb and Marv and 'krew',
      So sorry you have had etherways trubs and that now the long break has weakened the impetus - I do understand! It's okay to have summer holidays...

      Yes, anyone who has had even the remotest contact with the IOC situation will fully appreciate the hints in my poem - even those of us who volunteered as "people people" for the Os found so many rules and regs that might be called draconian. There was a good atmosphere in Sydney, but that was because folk were determined to enjoy it, not a fillip to the organisers! Ultimately, too, the sportspeople do deserve our support.

      Be well you lot and hope to see you up and around before too long. Hugswagswhiskeries, YAM-aunty xxx

  13. It really is shameful how the big bucks flow from the rich to the richer.
    I agree, they ought to shake it all up. Maybe three or four places to host. It costs so much.
    And then the amount professional sports players make... The disparity between those on the front lines, and those who are CEOs is horrible.


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