Deep Thoughts

The Daily Special Olympics

August 27, 2016

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We live in a world avid for spectacle (as, of course, did the Romans). We have already extended the concept of the Games to the disabled; why not to the fat? After all, the medical journals are agreed that obesity is a medical and not a moral problem. And just because the fat are ill doesn”€™t mean to say that they can”€™t participate in various sports, though it is true that some events”€”for example, the pole vault”€”might prove impractical. Technology, however, is improving all the time, and I am sure that before long the manufacturers would come up with something that could project the obese over the bar from a standing start. And there is no reason slavishly to copy the Games for the slim: A sprint could be twenty meters and a long-distance race anything over eighty.

The Games would be open to anyone with a body mass index over 40 (the BMI being the weight in kilos divided by the height in meters squared). I feel confident that the Games would attract a vast crowd and probably pay for themselves (unlike the Olympics). And obesity would serve to equalize prowess between the sexes, there being no reason to suppose that very fat men can waddle any faster or farther than very fat women. It is completely retrograde, by the way, that the Olympic Games should be arranged in a purely dichotomous and outdated way, as if there were only two sexes and they were determined by biology. I urge the Olympic Committee to read the recent New England Journal of Medicine editorial providing definitions of the various genders, for example a cisgender man being “€œa person assigned male sex at birth who identifies as a man,”€ the assignment at birth having been, of course, purely arbitrary, a matter of chance or the result of a toss of a coin. A genderqueer is “€œa person with a nonbinary gender identity, identifying as both a man and a woman or as neither.”€ As the NEJM rather coyly puts it in a footnote, “€œSome concepts are evolving so usage may vary.”€

I believe the Olympic slogan is “€œFaster, higher, stronger.”€ To this could be added “€œfatter”€ as the slogan of the new Games. These Games would be much fairer than the traditional ones inasmuch as they would be based on a purely objective measurement, the BMI, and not on a completely arbitrary division such as that between men and women. Besides, it is much easier nowadays to change one’s sex than one’s weight.

When you come to think of it, there are many kinds of Olympics that we could have. We should then have public spectacles all year round to help us take our minds off things, or destroy them (our minds, that is) altogether. Hamburgers and circuses show that we have made progress from the days of bread and circuses.

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