Have you listened to the latest episode of Unpopular Opinion yet? It’s the one where Brett Rader and I talk to Charles Disney and Isaac Simpson (from the Not A Huge Fan podcast) about some of the most politically charged moments in Olympic history. If, somehow, you managed to miss it, you can give it a listen right damn here:
Even better, I’ve posted my show notes below! If you’ve ever wondered what kind of documents are thrust upon our guests in the days prior to recording…wonder no more. I even left in the part where I tell people where to go and where to park, with a few minor omissions. Enjoy! Here goes…
Unpopular Opinion Episode 230 Show Notes – “When Politics Invade the Olympics”
Hey! We’re recording a podcast this Friday at 6:30pm! The address is _______________. Apartment number is ___. They’ll ask when you park. Parking is free after 5 so just park in the structure off ___. As for the topic…
Also hey! It’s almost time for the Olympics! I’m sure everyone else is as excited as those exclamation points imply! I personally fucking love the Olympics and the Winter Olympics are far and away my favorite of the two. Mostly because they’re the most dangerous to compete in. But beyond that, I’ve always seen the Olympics as kind of a mini world war that breaks out every two years (since they started alternating Winter and Summer to not be in the same year) and whatever political situations are happening between two countries are almost guaranteed to carry over to the games. I. Fucking. Love. That. This year will be no different, especially considering the Olympics are happening in South Korea this year. I’m not sure I even trust North Korea not to launch a surprise nuclear strike while everybody is there. So, let’s talk about a few other times politics bled over into the Olympic Games…
The Nazi Olympics
We kinda have to start with the Nazi Olympics. It makes the most sense from a “let’s relate this to what’s happening in the world right now” standpoint if nothing else. Nazis are hot right now! World War II hadn’t really started yet but Hitler was already spewing anti-semitic propaganda by this point, so the IOC briefly met to decide if the games should be moved. They opted to keep them in Germany mostly for logistical reasons. Hitler was expecting a triumph and instead got showed up by a black dude. He then slaughtered six million Jews in response. A harsh reaction, I say.
The Blood In The Water Match
Two cheers for violence in water polo! In 1956, Hungary was in the throes of a bloody uprising spurred on by growing unhappiness with the Communist/Pro-Soviet government. This, somehow, played itself out on a smaller scale at the Summer Olympics in Melbourne that year during what’s come to be known as the Blood In The Water Match. Hungary and Russia faced off in the water. Lots of punches were thrown. The game was called with a minute still left to play after one member of the Russian team threw a violent punched at an opponent from the Hungarian team, opening a gigantic gash in the player’s eye and causing blood to spill out into the pool. Hungary went on to win the gold medal.
The Munich Massacre
You’ve seen the movie Munich, right? If you haven’t seen Munich what are we even doing here? Palestinian terrorists broke into the Olympic village in Munich and took a huge swath of the Israeli Olympic team hostage. Shit got significantly crazier from there. Lots of people died. Great movie, though!
The Centennial Park Bombing
I mean, any terrorist bombing is going to be political, obviously, and this was no exception. It was eventually revealed that the bomber, Eric Rudolph, was motivated by what he saw as governmental support for “abortion on demand.” But what’s always been craziest to me about the Centennial Park bombing is how completely and totally Richard Jewell’s life was destroyed in the years that followed. He discovered the bomb and saved a whole lot of lives by clearing people out of the area before it went off. But that somehow turned into him being suspected of planting the bomb. The media widely reported on him being a suspect and, even though he was cleared by the end of 1996 (the same year the bombing happened), since it took a few years for someone to finally be arrested for the crime, the stink of being a suspect stuck with Richard Jewell for a long damn time.