Millions of people around the world put in endless hours of hard work for the purpose of enabling athletes at all levels to enjoy the pleasures and benefits of sports. For most of them it is either their hobby as a coach, manager or referee, or it is a part of the ‘job’ of being a parent. The overwhelming majority do not get any tangible compensation for their efforts; for some perhaps it is mainly a sacrifice, but for most – one hopes – it is a pleasure with its own intrinsic rewards. A minority, however, have it as their job or their career in some other sense. They earn a living from it, and some earn more than that. For yet others it is not the money, or just the money, it is the power and prestige, an ego trip in the world of sports.
But the Olympic Games, like now in Vancouver, tend to offer a healthy reminder: sport is – and should be – primarily for the athletes; and in a secondary way for all those who find it stimulating to watch. As many before me have more eloquently expressed, sport is not just enjoyable to do and to see, it teaches lessons for life and about life. I have had the great privilege to be part of the Olympics on many occasions. It was exciting but it required hard work, almost around the clock; one gets immersed, almost to the point of losing perspective. So, in a strange way, it is somehow a bit special, like for me now during the last couple of weeks, to be able to watch, if only on TV, the Olympics without being involved and just take it all in. Enjoying the fantastic performances, the struggles, the victories and the narrow defeats; and of course hearing and thinking about the personal stories and efforts that lead up to these performances.
So I am going back to those who in an unselfish and idealistic way make the performances of the athletes and the organization of such wonderful events possible: [u]they[/u] surely do not need any reminders about what sport is all about. [u]But[/u], then there are those who, directly or indirectly, earn their money, their positions, their power, their comfortable lives ‘on the backs of’ the athletes, often without much concern for fair play and good sportsmanship. Do [u]they[/u] not need some kind of reminder about what is, and what is not, expected from them? Some are found in business and politics surrounding the sport. But many are of course directly involved in the management of sport in one way or the other.
You know that in the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games, there is always [u]an athlete and a judge swearing oaths[/u] about ‘abiding by the rules,’ ‘impartiality,’ ‘true spirit of sportsmanship’ and ‘for the glory of sport.’ This seems entirely appropriate and may serve as a useful reminder. But what I think is [u]missing[/u] is that, in every Closing Ceremony the [u]IOC President, on behalf of the IOC and all sports federations around the world[/u], and by extension all those doing business with them, should be asked to [u]swear an oath that the same principles will be upheld, as these sports federations do their work for the athletes and sports[/u] until the next Olympic Games!