Today is the Day! Put your life on hold,
Close the shutters, turn on the television,
Join the billions of eager spectators
Well primed for the flickering indoctrination:
It’s propaganda time for the righteous Leaders
And ransom time for their benevolent Sponsors.
Shhh! Open your eyes, take it all in:
On the horizon shines the supersized logo,
While in the spotlight rise the mighty warriors,
All for one and one for all that is olympic,
A multicultural army of wannabe heroes.
Can you feel that whiff of rivalry and greed?
Flags unfurled, they hum bombastic anthems,
Body and soul marching in step with the flame
That leads the divided nations about to clash
In this sponsored, ersatz war.
Enhance the brightness, crank up the sound,
Are you ready? On your mark, get set, go!
From the vibrant maze of tracks and fields
To darkened arenas and hectic gymnasiums,
Across blue pools for richer, betting pools for poorer,
Each sporting showdown claims its own battleground;
Clicker in hand, you may surf the front lines
Held on plots of sand, rubber, tarmac or turf,
Or in the controlled flows of man-made rivers,
The choice is yours… or so it would seem.
And the Verb sets forward, the Action Verb that is,
As nothing is ever gained from the comfort of a chair
– Look at those rows of empty seats given to men
Too busy brokering power to bother with the show!
Now, now, no wasted wrath: at the box office,
This sponsored, ersatz war has just begun.
Hurry up! Pronto! Schnell! See the athletes run,
They run for honour and for money, the run of their life,
Oh boy, do they run! And they jump, and hurl, and swim,
And row, and shoot, and hit, and sail, and fly even,
And they flex and run some more, farther and faster,
One by one or all together, in pairs, in teams, in squads,
Scantily clad in kits of traditional uniformity,
Each proudly brandishing the weapon of their corps,
Here an oar, a racket, a javelin, a gun, a sword,
There a bat, a ball, a foot, a fist, and plenty of muscles!
And they break world records, olympic records,
National, city, schoolyard records, personal records,
And they sweat profusely for the flashing cameras,
And they give delirious, out-of-breath interviews,
Confessing to years of diets, hard work and pain,
Celebrating victory, acknowledging defeat,
As nobody but the cheaters need feel ashamed
Of taking part in this sponsored, ersatz war.
Don’t turn off the tube, more is yet to come!
A few courageous, crowd-fuelled troopers
Still strive toward the ultimate goal:
To bite the edge of that iconic, gilded token
They can only hope to conquer in a dream.
Just don’t expect any surprise from the exercise:
The well-heeled are usually first to the post,
While the collateral actors limp on behind,
And the winners weep, and the losers cry,
All tears of duty owed their enduring supporters.
They wish it could last forever (don’t we all?),
Only soon they must return whence they came
To nurse their sore limbs and waning spirits,
Ephemeral gladiators left to blow in the contrail
Of this sponsored, ersatz war.
The screen is blank, are the games over?
You are rooted in your sofa, wanting more;
No worry, you can relive the glorious moments
By consuming those oh!-so-desirable products
That made possible this broadcast spectacle.
And if your twisted mind, stoned on advertised fare,
Dared fantasise a stampede of marathonians
Crossing the path of a gaggle of archers,
Alas! you sense that the real wounds of this contest
Surely are suffered by the host-nation’s taxpayers.
Some say that they can only blame themselves
For favouring a two-party, one-ideology democracy
Underpinned by the military-industrial complex,
But what choice is there, I ask you,
When nobody will sponsor a true revolution?