Monday, August 18, 2008

Globalization and the Olympics

Kinda neat the intermingling of nationalities on display at the olympics. Also heartening to see the mixing on the US team. Shows that the US is still capable of attracting the best talent and hopefully in integrating it. For example:

  • gymnastics, women. winner looks the all-american texas girl, but was born in moscow. 2nd place from iowa has a chinese coach
  • men's gymnastic team, us captain looks Chinese. and the team also has the first south-asian athlete i've seen outside of cricket at an international event
  • us volleyball head coach is a chinese woman
  • in swimming, less so, from what I see. except that it seems that athletes from around the world (like Zimbabwe) all trained in the US. one black swimmer.
  • the distance runner from kenya

Also, nice public diplomacy (the euphemism for propaganda) for the US. Despite the anti-immigrant sentiments that politicians bandy about.

The related amusingstat is that 70 of the competitors in ping pong are either Chinese or Chinese hua-qiao (of the Chinese diaspora)

Though probably the Brazilians play volleyball for Georgia is a bit much, if it is true that they've only spent 2 days in Georgia before hand.


hcduvall said...

You should see the US and fencing teams. They most successfully break the perceptions of race (and class) I think. I don't think Nastia Liukin looks much like a Texas girl actually, but I suppose the point is that all-american can mean anyone.

Perhaps I'm caught up in a sentimental mood watching mostly happy athletes competing, but I think public diplomacy is a far cry from propaganda. And not really relevant, or at best incidental, since these folks are chosen for their teams by competition, even if some of those rules are fudgy.

HoBs said...

agreed. i shouldn't have called it propaganda. I am also quite sentimental watching the olympics this time.

but always amused that the state department's department of public diplomacy, really is basically a department of propaganda.

hcduvall said...

I'm mildly shocked at my own sentimentality right now, of the reforming cynic sort. The most heartwarming bit was watching some of the women's gymnastics and thinking "Gosh, they actually look happy this time around."

You weren't too far off actually, if you included the Chinese athletic program. Everyone I know cheered uniformly for whoever was competing, (well, we pulled for the US, but in an admiring way for all the athletes) for what that's worth, but I wonder about the Chinese propaganda calculus that promotes getting a gold so highly that it creates stories like the one "Now she gets to see her parents for the first time in 8 years" sort. I think it's a little sad that for their goals, they made the right choice, insofar as they want to retain medal count as a rubric for judging national development.