Have the Olympics outlived their purpose and usefulness? Host countries spend billions of dollars, and in the case of Brazil, have better uses for the money. For sponsors, is the investment in elite athletes a good use of money on hopes they will get their picture on a box of Wheaties?

Gastonia, NC Correspondent-I am a hardcore supporter of the Olympics, and I still believe that the Games allow us to showcase what is best in us and lets countries that might be nearly in states of active war compete on a level playing field. (Much more level now that the Russians have been busted for their doping ways.)

In the case of Brazil, saying that the money could have been put to better use is specious. The Brazilian government is so corrupt that excess funding would have been funneled off to any of a number of crony accounts. At least this way the common folk will have an influx of tourists to milk for their currency, and the tourism profile might be elevated…although if bodies continue to wash up near the beach volleyball venue, that might be in doubt.

For the sponsors, the Olympics are still a great deal. Becoming the official provider of uniforms for a major country’s team is a huge PR win, and has always led to long-term sales and image boosts for the brands involved. Yes, the Wheaties box is nice, but the real money is in the apparel and equipment companies, and they’re more than happy to sink their promotions dollars into the Games.

But beyond that, in an ever-more connected world, where both our commonalities and differences are enhanced a thousandfold courtesy of the Internet, it’s refreshing to have a time when men and women compete in sports that in some cases go back centuries. Countries are unabashed in their jingoistic support of their athletes, but it’s all done with a frisson of good humor. Every Games, there’s some unlikely athlete from some flyspeck nation who steps up and captures the dreams of kids all over the world, and every Games there’s plenty of upsets, surprises and foregone conclusions gone wrong to keep it lively. Keep the Games.

Owatonna, MN Correspondent-Considering that the Olympics were originally created as a way for nations around the world to come together and promote peaceful relationships and friendly athletic competition between the finest amateur athletes in the world, it must be said that the Olympics have outlived their purpose. Today, nations use the guise of friendly competition to promote their superiority in a way that is all about propaganda and morale boosting.

Moreover, steroid use, performance-enhancing drugs (PED), and complete obfuscation of the term “amateur athlete” due to countries covering training costs, travel, nutrition, and outside trainers and sports psychologists have cast a pall over the spirit of competition and the pursuit of athletic excellence. How can the world revel in supreme athletic accomplishments such as a world record time in a race when that athlete has subsequently tested positive for PEDs or steroids, or been found guilty of blood doping or taking banned substances?

There may be some residual peaceful understanding and cultural exchange happening between participating athletes, but that is overshadowed by all the frantic nationalistic cheering and bragging by spectators from all nations, most certainly the nations with the largest contingent of athletes and the more illustrious achievements and medal totals.

Nevertheless, the Olympics are still a useful exercise despite the huge debt that host nations and locales incur in order to outdo the previous hosts in grandeur, spectacle, and a smoothly run fortnight of competitions. Tourism may receive a boost from billions watching on television and perhaps deciding to visit the host country. A nation’s culture can be emphasized and illustrated, which may lead to better cross-cultural understanding. Infrastructure improvements often permanently benefit local residents and economies. Finally, more obscure sports are showcased and perhaps inspire young children to pursue excellence in athletics, which often transfers to the pursuit of excellence in careers and personal behavior in general.

If sponsors want to dump millions or billions of dollars into promotion and advertising in hopes of selling a few more boxes of cereal, that’s fine as long as it isn’t public money being siphoned from average citizens who don’t necessarily condone the perceived waste of tax dollars. Government’s should most certainly be dissuaded to spend money on this sort of propaganda for merely political or geopolitical gains.

On balance, the pursuit of excellence in all facets of life and all levels of society is preferable to merely settling for average or ignoring excellence completely in hopes of creating a homogenously average, equal, socialistic world where no one has incentive to strive for a better life. But that pursuit of excellence should never come at the expense of providing for the basic care of the poorest of the world’s poor.

Sheffield, Jamaica Correspondent-The Olympics is a colossal event featuring the world’s foremost sporting games and competitions. On a normal and consistent basis, the Olympics has at least 200 nations as participants. There has been many opinions as to whether or not the Olympics should be made to continue. However, in my opinion and estimation of the matter, the Olympics has not outlived its purpose and usefulness. It should be made to continue. The main objective of the Olympics is to unite and promote peace across international borders. The Olympics is a time for merriment as people of different nationalities, backgrounds, and cultures come together to enjoy good and up-building entertainment.

I’m not really concerned about how much money is thrown into these festivities, but really, countries like Brazil could use the money for further enhancement of their political, environmental, and societal interests. If sponsors have the money to spend, there’s no issue in risking it all, just for an opportunity to have their brand or images exhibited on a box. I believe that who should truly benefit from the Olympics are the athletes. These individuals work hard and push their bodies to do wonders. In fact, many athletes put their daily activities on hold in the name of their country. I say let the Olympics continue and allow those investors to spend. Hell, we can’t take that money to the grave!

Prescott Valley, NV Correspondent-Originally, the modern Olympics were to have been based on the promotion of international peace and understanding, which was to have corresponded with the custom of the ancient Greeks that provided for reoccurring truces during athletic competitions. Additionally, the significance of the modern Olympics was not in the winning but through the participation and effort put forth by amateur athletes. So, in both respects the current Olympic platform has outlived its original intent.

The games of today are a mockery in comparison to those original ideals. International peace, brotherhood and true amateur competition have been replaced by professional athletes (supposedly posing as amateurs) as well as tainting of the games themselves by boycotts, terrorism, bomb scares, bribes, favors, performance enhancement, lucrative endorsements and the hot pursuit of Gold for down the road cash returns.

The Olympic Games have not promoted international cohesiveness in some time; rather they have created pockets of resistance by other countries, which has led to the bribing of judges for top medal standings as well as more flagrant infractions such as doping athletes without their knowledge. The race for a country to accumulate medals, host an Olympics or rank at the top in standings has become a competition unto itself and has resulted in criminal activity.

Sponsors that micromanage the more elite athletes that come out of various Olympic cycles have given over their souls to investments in those athletes while losing sight, once again, of the original intent of the games and the promotion of true competition between amateurs rather than semi-professional and professional athletes.

A sponsor’s hope lies in the garnering of millions through the elites while bypassing the true meaning of the games and the athletes participating in them. Those athletes who have struggled most of their lives to participate in the games are ignored, while sponsors gravitate to the superstars for financial gain and product recognition. If an elite athlete does not meet their commercial expectations, he or she will be dropped or traded for someone of more prominent standing.

Rather than investing in elite athletes for their own gain, sponsors should be investing in those athletes that support the spirit of the Olympics and the type of goodwill that is supposed to be generated through international sportsmanship. Once again, commercialization, greed and private profiteering have turned a somewhat sacred event into a spectacle, plus the host countries usually reap few rewards as the costs to those nations are astronomical and any benefits are fleeting.

The Olympics have outlived their usefulness and if anything, is going to replace them, it should be a separate Olympics established for amateur athletes only, with all the incentives for endorsements and millions in prize money eliminated. The professional athletes should organize their own game movement as well, but they certainly should not do it under the guise of the Olympic flag or the original intent of the games as those principles have certainly been long forgotten. Seriously, a purging and return to the original meaning of the games is one of the few answers, but with the competition for fame, glory and cash on the minds of those participating in and sponsoring, it is hard to say if even reorganization would be of benefit. Let the games begin their continued demise should be the revised motto of the modern Olympic games.

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