It’s interesting, isn’t it, that as soon as the Games start all the negativity about them suddenly seems to disappear.
Before the Rio Olympics began, there was heaps of talk in the media (including in my article a couple of weeks ago) about the downsides of hosting the games: the cost, the disruption, how it affects the poor, doping, how the money could’ve been better spent, and so on… But now, a few days in, everyone seems to have forgotten!
Now it’s all talk of the crashes and injuries in the cycling, French gymnast Samir Ait Said’s broken leg, world records broken in the swimming pool, the flamboyant opening ceremony. But what about the empty seats and the protests? Well, they seem to be either not reported on or quietly forgotten – or both.
This is all about the media: newspapers, television, internet streaming. We only know what’s happening in Rio de Janeiro because of what we read and see. None of us are actually there to see for ourselves. Whilst some of us might know family or friends or are either competing or watching, 99% of us rely on the media to tell us what’s going on.
That means, if the media decide not to tell or show us something, then we have no idea what they are not showing – in other words, if there are protests and the media don’t show us, then we don’t know if there are protests or not. So, when the television broadcasters decide to concentrate on giving us, for example, swimming, soccer and rugby sevens (and no protests) then we quickly forget that there was ever any controversy over the Games.
Everyone wants a good time. The media allow us to concentrate on the good times at the Games – celebrating wins, backing our Kiwi athletes, experiences the drama, the highs and the lows. Why take that away from us?
The Olympic message, the Olympic ideal, is reliant on media and broadcasters to spread their good news of ‘faster, higher, stronger’. The trick is to keep the message positive, and not let anything ruin or damage it, so spectators believe that the Olympics are amazing, successful and that everyone is in support of them.
Yes, of course, what the athletes are doing in Rio is incredible. They’ve trained for years to compete and sacrificed so much. But remember, there’s always another side to every story. When you watch or read about the Olympics – in fact, whenever you watch or read anything – ask yourself these two questions: what am I not being told? Why are they not telling me?
This is an opinion article, designed to promote critical discussion amongst your students:
Critical Thinking Challenges:
- Why do you think that the media for the Olympics prefer to concentrate on the Games rather than on the negative aspects of what’s happening in Rio?
- Are there always two sides to every story?
- ‘What am I not being told? Why are they not telling me?’ Why does the media not report certain things?
- Who is in control of the messages that media broadcasts to you? What is in it for the broadcasters?
- If the media tell us their side of the story, how can we find out the truth?
- Why is this article headlined ‘The Olympic Trick’?
- Read and compare newspaper and internet news stories about Rio. Do they all say similar things?
- What do you imagine that Russian newspapers might be saying about the Russian doping scandal that happened just before these Olympic Games?
- Collect newspaper cuttings about Rio – either on particular athletes or certain events.
- How much coverage is there online, on the television news or in a newspaper about the negative aspects of the Olympics compared to the coverage of the sports. Why is there such a difference?
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