The death of the Olympic athlete, Nodar Kumaritashvili, was a terrible event.
I was disturbed by the assessment of one Olympic observer – a Canadian, I believe. He said, “Well, these guys are warriors!” The implication being that the possibility of death is something that the athletes accept and we shouldn’t mourn too much.
His words and the fact that young Mr. Kumatritashvili’s death was actually televised chilled me and sent me back a few decades.
The controversial film director, Peter Watkins, directed and wrote ‘Gladiators’ way back in the late sixties. I saw it in the early seventies when it made the rounds of the university campuses.
“Gladiators” was unsettling. The timeframe was the near future. Humankind had somehow realized after the development of the nuclear bomb that war between nations would mean the end of the human race. But what do do with all that aggression? Well, in order to quell our innate bloodlust, each nation agreed to send a team of soldiers to some remote site to compete in what was called ‘The Peace Games’.
Now it has been a long time, but if I remember correctly, the games were fought to the death and they were televised world wide. People got to sit in their own homes or local bars to cheer and watch their nation’s team kill or be killed.
Sound familiar? Feeling queasy?
Let’s not brush Nodar Kumaritashvili's death off. He wasn’t a warrior and his death should have been private. CBC had no business broadcasting the scene. As far as I can see he was a boy from a particularly poor part of the globe who had earned the chance of a lifetime – to come to our beautiful country and compete in the Olympic Games. Olympic Games, not war games.
We need to mourn. For him and for us.