Universal Athletics – Parades

The Olympic Games have their monomyth – the lighting of the Olympic torch at Mount Olympus, Greece, and its transport to the site of the games somewhere else in the world. Torchbearing is good public relations, that brings a lot of public interest resulting in ticket sales and, more importantly, passive television viewing. It also provides historiosity, an intertwined package of ersatz-historic fact, pseudo-myth and quasi-designed torches. Paloma Faith is a typical torchbearer. In her photo from the 2012 London (England) Olympics, below, she demonstrates the Olympic ideals – skyhigh patent red heels, custom white tracksuit,  bare midriff with belly jewelry. If only I knew something about designer sunglasses, hair fashions and makeup, I could comment on all those items too. It doesn’t matter that the flame is missing, when so many other important elements are included.

Paloma Faith
Paloma Faith, Iconic Olympic torchbearer

Each community, of course, has its own myths that are equally valid to promote. Those that never had, or have lost, their myths, can always invent new or adopt different ones.

One way for communities to show their spirit is to hold parades that emphasize the mathematical equation: Unity = Cooperation + (the joy of) Diversity.

Unique Parades

If one googles “unique parades” one of the first items listed  takes you to Huffpost Women, and an article titled Weird and Wacky Parades from Around the World. The first parade listed, “The Mermaid Parade celebrates the sand, the sea, the beginning of summer, and the history and mythology of Coney Island.” Alas, a disappointing parade, just like the two next ones on their list: Running of the Nudes and Go Blonde Parade.

For those of you who were directed here because a search engine found the phrase “mermaid parade” you will be disappointed. This blog is far too honest and un-American to show a female breast with its nipple covered by a miniature sea shell. I have never understood why it is acceptable to display 98% of a breast, but unacceptable to show 2%, consisting of its only working part. The Cony Island (NY, USA) Mermaid Parade will not be discussed further. I gave more serious consideration to including the “Running of the Nudes” through the streets of Pamplona (Spain). This is a more compassionate and fun remake of the “Corrida de toros” or “Running of the Bulls.” I particularly liked their slogan, “Out with the old, in with the nude!” Again, this blog is not in the business of providing gratuitous nudity, even if the purpose of the run is the promotion of animal welfare.

Also missing from this list is the Riga (Latvia) Go Blonde Parade. I appreciate blondes. In fact I appreciate all natural hair colours. I am less enthusiastic about dyed hair, be it black as a replacement for gray, or bright red/ green/ blue as a replacement for mouse brown. My main objection with Go Blonde type of parades is that they exclude non-blondes. Some of my best friends are non-blondes, and I would want them to participate on equal footing in any parade.

Riga Go Blond Parade
Riga’s Go Blonde Parade will not be included here!

Lobsterdog Parade

Pets (believe  they) are people! Many feel they should be included in parades. Naturally, Homo sapiens with pet allergies are not always in agreement. At the Port of Los Angeles there is an annual  Lobster Festival, with a Lobsterdog Parade as a highlight.

Parades, like most cultural artifacts, morph! While searching for an appropriate photo of Lobsterdog, I came across an almost iconic photo of a costumed pooch. It appears to be from the Lakewood, Ohio Pet-Tique Spooky Pooch Parade, in 2010. Not being a dog psychologist, whisperer, trainer or owner I have very little understanding of dog feelings, especially when they are subjected to humanoid whims. However, the mutt in the photo looks sad, and is undoubtedly aware of his loss of dignity.

Lobsterdog parade
Unidentified pooch in lobsterdog costume (photo: Marianne Riccardi?)

Houston Car Art Parade

Cars are (treated as) people. Since 1984,  some 250,000 people (not all certified psychiatric cases) watch over 250 vehicles. It started when Texas artist Jackie Harris spent $800 transforming a 1967 Ford station wagon into a “fruitmobile”.

There are countless variants:  The Friday night “cruise” immortalized in American Graffiti, and countless other tedious teen films; Annual car parades featuring, in alphabetical order, classic cars, hot rods, muscle cars, sports cars, station wagons, touring cars, veteran cars. Most of these variations focus on preservation of past technology, a few allow owners to improve – or at least change it. The big difference with Houston is that the parade focuses on the creation of automotive art.

sunflower art car 2002
Sunflower Car, Houston Art Car Parade, 2002

Bosch Parade

Now we come to one of my favorite parades, Bosch! I’ll let the organizers describe it in their own words. “Every June, since 2010, the waters of ’s-Hertogenbosch provide the venue for the Bosch Parade. A wondrous armada of vessels and objects inspired by the work and ideas of Medieval painter J heronimus Bosch. Artists from all disciplines (art, theatre, dance, music, architecture) collaborate with groups of enthusiastic amateurs and volunteers to create this artistic, water-borne parade. This spawns not only a creative floating parade by and for the city, but also an extensive creativity network throughout the city.” http://www.boschparade.nl/english/

House of Hell, from Bosch Parade 2, 2014
House of Hell, from Bosch Parade 2, 2014

The Olympic Games have their opening and closing ceremonies. Universal Athletics can have as many or as few parades as people want. Hopefully, this will provide some inspiration.

Universal Athletics – Manifesto

Every self-respecting protest movement has at least one manifesto. Here is a first attempt to write one for Universal Athletics. Suggestions for improvements are appreciated.

1. Value God, your family and yourself above any sport.

2. Participate in sports and athletics that you find fun and keep you fit.

3. Cooperative sports are to be preferred to competitive sports.

4. Sportsmanship is the moral essence of the Athletes.

5. Many if not most competitive teams are wealth extraction organizations.

6. Team loyalty is nonsense, and pits your interests against those of a team.

7. Avoid sports related and other branded merchandise.

8: Exercising and playing is better than than watching others exercise and play.

 

Universal Athletics – Logo & Motto

Today’s effort was to work on a logo for Universal Athletics. The first version has no text, the next ones incorporates the English language motto, “Having fun, Keeping fit”. This is followed by Norwegian and Swedish versions with the same motto in translation.

Without text

UA Logo

English Version

UA Logo + Motto

Norwegian Version

UA Norsk

Swedish Version

UA Svensk

Universal Athletics

The Olympic Games hold little appeal. They represent yet another example of how the world’s elite allow taxpayers to subsidize their participation at events, where a class of entertainers called athletes – many using performance enhancing drugs – compete.

The only way the majority get to see the Olympics is on their television screens. Rights to the events are sold to media corporations, who inflict viewers with excessive advertisements, to extract wealth for themselves – and the very exclusive 100 members of the International Olympic Committee.

The Olympic Games got off to a bad start. Nationalism was at the root of Greek interest in reviving the Olympic Games after the Greek War of Independence,  which ended in 1821. Games were held sporadically in 1859, 1870 and 1875.  The International Olympic Committee was started in 1894, organizing the 1896 Olympic Games. The committee focused on nationalism, inviting countries to compete against countries, rather than athletes to compete against athletes.

Participants outside the elite were also discriminated against, with an artificial distinction between amateur and professional. Two incidents were of particular importance. Jim Thorpe was stripped of his pentathlon and decathlon medals when it was discovered that he had played semi-professional baseball before the Olympics. Swiss and Austrian skiers boycotted the  1936 Winter Olympics in support of their skiing teachers, who were not allowed to compete because they earned money with their sport.

Jim Thorpe (1887-1953) is particularly interesting. Not only was he of mixed Native American and European ancestry, he excelled at many different sports. At Carlisle Indian Industrial school he competed in football, baseball, lacrosse and ballroom dancing. The pentathlon involves long jump, javelin throw, 200 metres, discus throw and 1500 metres. The decathaon features ten events over two days. Day 1: 100 metres,  long jump, shot put, high jump and 400 metres. Day 2: 110 metres hurdles, discus throw, pole vault, javelin throw and 1500 meters. Later, he played baseball, football and basketball professionally. An ABC Sports poll voted Thorpe the Greatest Athlete of the Twentieth Century in competition with 15 other world famous athletes.

Jim_Thorpe_Canton_Bulldogs_1915-20.png
Jim Thorpe

The Olympic Games were envisioned as a means for the aristocracy and other members of the elite to promote their own interests. This began to be eroded with Eastern Bloc state-sponsored full-time amateur athletes. Amateurism was gradually phased out of the Olympic Charter from the 1970s to 1988, when all professional athletes were made eligible to participate.

The reason behind this post is that Russian polevalter Yelena Isinbayeva says she will file a discrimination suit if Russia’’s ban from global track and field competition is upheld and she is barred from competing at the Rio Olympics. What this says is that the country, not the athlete is important. This is the wrong emphasis.

What I would like to happen is for people to forget about national teams and to encourage local athletics and sports. Athletics should be fun. I hope people will use their time between 2016-08-05 and 2016-08-21 to develop their own athletic potential, rather than sitting in front of a screen watching others.

If enough of us begin at the local level, a universal athletics movement can’t be far behind.

Pavel Golokin 2016 Yelena Isinbayeva
Yelena Isinbayeva