The Olympics would never be the same after Munich in 1972.
In 1973 I made my first trip to Europe. Landing in Frankfurt I remember being stunned to see a plane surrounded by soldiers with guns and tanks. It was an EL AL plane. Welcome to the nightmare.
When I was in Munich, walking around in the park next to the indoor stadium, it seemed so odd to be in the place I’d watched on television less than a year before. Life went on as if all of it had just been a TV drama. I remember being upset that the fellow at the food cart only sold warm Cokes. That was my moment of sanity before I went back to thinking about the nightmare that had played out.
I look at the siege mentality at the London Olympics and it feels hopeless. Instead of things getting better through the decades they’ve only gotten worse. The insanity has become the norm.
I don’t watch the Olympics anymore. The last games I watched were the ones in Barcelona in 1992. I haven’t missed them. I don’t like the way they’re sold, the faux drama in the coverage, and the “us against them” mentality with the medal counts.
It’s sad to mark moments in our lives with shared tragedies because of television. Only a few years before Munich the world watched as we landed on the moon. Weigh the good with the bad moments shared by all of us and I’m guessing the bad will have more weight. More of us will remember the shared horror of what people do to each other.