Friday, August 03, 2012

On the Chinese.

It's hard not to think, as I watch a ton of Chinese athletes win gold medals all over the place at the Olympics, it's only a matter of time before they take over the world (and probably enslave the rest of us in the process). Consider:
  • there's 1,339,724,852 of them
  • they're loaded-up on US debt
  • their government does extremely bold things
To me, that's a pretty volatile combination. But as it applies to sports, consider each of the poins:

The Numbers
If you have that many people, odds are that you're going to have someone who has just the right build and mental temperament to excel at pretty much anything. (You can make cracks about how short they are, but consider that (a.) you're probably thinking about Hong Kongers as opposed to mainland Chinese, and (b.) Yao Ming is 7'6".)

The Money
In case you haven't noticed, they have a lot of it, and a lot of that comes from the US because the US is in a lot of debt and a lot of that is owed to China. You can talk about GDP and whatnot, but that doesn't include the amount of money in business/government that doesn't circulate out to the average-folk.

The Government
This is perhaps the most interesting/formidable piece of the puzzle. Remember the Beijing olympics? The government did such things as (a.) build huge/expensive/crazy buildings for all the events, (b.) bulldoze entire neighbourhoods to build things, (c.) ordered industries to shut down for a few weeks to clear the air pollution around the city, and most crazily (d.) seeded the clouds before they got to Beijing, ensuring sunny skies for outdoor events.

But what concerns me the most are the stories about how they train athletes. You know the script: at age 6, someone sees that some kid has a real aptitude for, say, gymnastics. Kid gets yanked from the family and gets put in some special school for athletes halfway across the country. Kid spends all day, every day, training for their event. So, when they finally win that gold medal, of course it's a huge sigh of relief; there's so much invested in them, for decades — not just with themselves and their coaches, but the whole government apparatus as well.

The only thing I can think of which comes close in this country is kids who are trying to climb the ladder to play professional hockey — there are endless tournaments, games, leagues, camps and such, and if you play in the OHL in a team away from home, that can involve a lot of separation from your family, friends and otherwise "normal" life (although I think there are rules that keep kids under 16 in their hometown, or close to it).

I dunno, man. In the end, sure, China may end up kicking all our asses on the medal count. But if the kids-turned-adults have to pay that high a price in order to win everything... they can just keep those medals, thanks, and I'll take kids with normal childhoods instead.

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