This post by Mike Marqusee on the 'Olympic hype' is a mixed bag. On the one hand, he makes good points about the genuine appeal of sport - its unpredictability and autonomy, its resistance to narratives externally imposed. He doesn't mention the fact that it's not only in the Olympic context that breathlessness of the present kind about sport occurs, but let this pass. He's right: the drama and the spectacle lie in the events themselves, as do the unremarkable and the mundane; no one really needs to be told that they have to enjoy what they're seeing or how.
On the other hand, Mike reckons all the media hoohah is 'oppressive'. To this I would say: everyone should be so oppressed. The truth is that if you don't like it, you can shut it out, and it's no more than weak will or a failure of personal discipline to complain about stuff others are pressing upon you, when you can simply switch off, not read, do something else. If I may cite my own case as an Olympics now-and-againer: I've enjoyed quite a few events - the ones that interest me and some odds and ends casually watched - and ignored everything I didn't want to see or didn't have time for; I've read almost nothing from the daily press coverage. Just like that. Anyone who pleads they're overwhelmed by the hype is someone wanting to be annoyed.
On the third hand, Mike's post contains a small gem. It's this, written in connection with the supposed oppressiveness:
The Olympic hype has helped me understand an observation made by the philosopher Slavoj Žižek.
Mark up another achievement for the London Olympics. Not that understanding Slavoj Žižek is something I'd recommend as a priority. But helping people to understand what isn't always entirely pellucid counts as spreading human understanding in a general way, and, other things equal, that is an enterprise to be applauded. (Thanks: RB.)