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American Sports Imperialism

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ARLINGTON, TX – NOVEMBER 21: Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones watches as the Cowboys take on the Detroit Lions at Cowboys Stadium on November 21, 2010 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Even without climate change, it would be a really bad idea to hold the Olympics in Japan in August. It’s really hot and humid! Climate change only makes this worse, as we are seeing globally in this horrible summer, which to be clear, will be not as bad as next summer and way better than the summer of 2031. So why the heck are these Olympics even being held at this time? In 1964, it was in October, a time of the year that makes far more sense. The answer is obvious–the only nation that really matters is the United States and the only sport that really matters in the United States is football, thus the entirety of the global athletic world has to sacrifice so that NBC doesn’t have to compete with the NFL and SEC.

All of which begs a question: Why hold the Olympic Games in the heart of the summer this time — July 23-Aug. 8?

Well, a lot of people blame NBC (as well as other broadcasters around the world), which have historically drawn higher ratings for midsummer broadcasts that occur prior to the start of the school year and the NFL season.

“It’s essentially driven by American television,” Dick Pound, a Canadian Olympic committee member and former chair of television negotiations for the International Olympic Committee, told The New York Times.

NBC has long denied being a deciding factor. However, as much as two-thirds of the International Olympic Committee’s budget comes from global television rights deals and about half of that comes from the American network, which is in the midst of a $7.75 billion deal to broadcast the Summer and Winter Games through 2032.

NBC notes that it plays no official role in the selection of where or when the Olympics will take place and points to its contract with the IOC which was agreed to in 2014, well before the selection process for host sites after 2022.

Of course, NBC, or broadcast partners from other countries, don’t necessarily have to say anything for its interests to be considered.

This is the IOC; money always talks. It can’t be coincidental that the official bidding process for host cities notes that the Summer Games should be held between July 15 and Aug. 31 unless the IOC grants a waiver due to “exceptional circumstances.”

The issue dates back to the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney, Australia, which began Sept. 15 and produced the lowest television ratings in America since the Games became a huge broadcast event in the 1980s.

NBC’s prime-time average from Sydney was a 13.8 rating, down from an average of 18.9 from the three previous Summer Games. The next four Summer Olympics began in either late July or early-to-mid August and delivered higher ratings — Athens (15), Beijing (16.2), London (17.5) and Rio de Janeiro (14.4).

Doha, Qatar, made an initial bid to host the 2020 Games and proposed an October start date to avoid the searing heat of summer in the Middle East. It was eliminated early in the process and the IOC concluded in a report:

“In October, broadcasters would face lower viewership rating levels on a global level when having to compete with other major sports events or general entertainment/TV programming priorities for the autumn season. Significantly less Olympic broadcast [ratings] would also result in lower exposure and impact commercial opportunities.”

Let’s be clear, the American obsession with the NFL (fully shared by myself of course) has had a huge impact on the athletes in Tokyo.

Athletes and others involved in the Summer Olympics in Tokyo face punishing heat and the prospect of a wind-driven deluge as the games come to a close over the next several days. Japan is slogging through its most extreme heat of the summer while a tropical storm may pass very close to Tokyo this weekend.

Oppressive heat and humidity smothered Tokyo on Wednesday, “torturing the Olympians and volunteers,” tweeted Sayaka Mori, a local meteorologist. The brutal combination made it feel like 109 degrees during the afternoon.

The opening 18 holes of the women’s golf event were played amid Wednesday’s excessive heat. Jack Fulghum, caddie for golfer Lexi Thompson, withdrew after 15 holes. “I am about to pass out,” he told Thompson, NBCMiami wrote, before being helped off the course. Another caddie was rushed to the hospital because of heat stroke, Golf.com reported.

Weather also plagued the Olympics opening week when Tropical Storm Nepartak, which merely grazed Tokyo, forced schedule adjustments for archery, rowing and sailing.

Then, after the storm passed, excessive heat became problematic.

Daniil Medvedev, the world’s No. 2 tennis player, struggled with the heat during a match July 28. “I can finish the match, but I can die,” he told chair umpire Carlos Ramos. Medvedev subsequently managed to withstand the temperatures and won his match

But “Spanish player Paula Badosa was less fortunate,” ESPN.com reported. “She left the court in a wheelchair … because of heatstroke.”

Reuters reported that through Sunday, 30 people involved in the Olympics had suffered from heat-related illnesses.

The Olympics have coincided with the hottest time of year in Tokyo, and the heat through Friday is anticipated to be the most intense of the games. NBCMiami reported that the Swedish and Canadian women’s soccer teams requested that Friday’s gold medal match be rescheduled from the middle of the day.

This is a very real version of hegemonic imperialism, with the U.S. dominance over the global media market potentially sickening or even killing athletes so that dudes can watch the Cowboys or a thrilling Alabama-Furman game without any competition.

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