One of the reasons many of us find pleasure in sports is that it provides respite from life-and-death issues like politics.
But there is no respite: the current Winter Olympics now going on in Sochi, Krasnodar Krai, Russia, has been ultra-political from the get-go. Russia’s chest-baring potentate, Vlad “The Impulsive” Putin, has spent billions to showcase Russian greatness, and will spend billions of taxpayer rubles more.
But amidst talk of terrorism and toilets, undrinkable water and unthinkable discrimination, you will probably be the very opposite of “shocked, shocked” to learn that the Olympic Charter promotes something as odd as this:
The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practicing sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.
David Howden, at the Mises Institute’s Circle Bastiat, directs our attention to the peculiar framing of the issue of access to games and entertainment competition in terms of rights, which are not
founded on any rigorous analysis, but rather represent preferences. (The preferences of the United Nations, incidentally.) Perhaps the more dangerous problem is that the past century has seen such an inflation of human rights that each one’s value has diminished significantly.
My take’s slightly different: Human rights get cheapened when equated with mere entertainment — or other benefits provided by governments.
But there’s something like a right to sport within the right to pursue our happiness.
Despite Sochi’s broken toilets and the modern Olympics’ long history of politicians pursuing power, the words of our Declaration of Independence come to mind when I see a skier turning flips through the air on a big jump.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.