Just before the opening ceremonies of the Summer Olympics, a friend told me there was no reason why the United States shouldn’t win every medal there was to win in Beijing. His argument, in a nutshell, was that we are a vastly superior nation to any other country in the world.
Unfortunately, being one of the greatest countries in the world does not mean that everyone likes us. Although many try to imitate our culture and accomplishments, animosity for American “arrogance” is rampant. Our international relations are not the best they’ve ever been, to say the least.
At the conclusion of Friday’s events, the United States medal count had them surpassing the one hundred mark. All the while, attention in the U.S. centered on China having won more gold medals than we had.
Most interesting, was the reaction of many Americans to China’s suspicious gymnastics domination. Athletes looking far younger than the age requirement of sixteen years old won medals for China in gymnastics, causing the International Olympic Committee to announce an investigation into the matter. Hopeful American gold medalists were left with silver and bronze in gymnastics, sending Americans into an uproar.
Who the rage turned to was most significant. To glare augers at the young Chinese gymnasts did not leave a comfortable feeling in the guts of Americans. All along, the media had been reporting on how China had manufactured its athletes. Anger was directed toward China’s authoritarian government, widely regarded for its oppressive treatment of citizens.
Though not currently engaged in a war with China, the United State’s rivalry with China in the 2008 Summer Olympics can be compared to its rivalry with the Soviet Union during the years of the Cold War. Then and now, we perceive ourselves as the good guys and make them out to be the bad guys.
Like seniors taking territory over first-years, the United States meddles in making sure everyone else is subordinate to its greatness.
In the United States, winning the Olympics is not exciting; it is expected. It’s precisely this arrogance that causes contempt for the U.S. in the world.
Americans were probably puzzled when Visa first unveiled its Olympic commercial ending with the words “Go World.”
Sadly, the Olympics have reminded us of a powerful impression: if you’re not American, we don’t want you to win.