Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Telling the Truth is a Dangerous Business - Part Deux

Okay, the Olympics are important.  Agreed.  But feeding people is important too.  I do not mean any disrespect, but I do mean to engage in honest conversation.  My fellow watch bloggers have labeled me as "troublesome" and some other names that perhaps aren't fit for family viewing.  I can live with that.  I do not live in expectation of the "champagne room" at the next SWATCH or Richemont event.  If I am a pariah, then I made the choice to be a pariah.

But what of the people without food, shelter, medicine?  What of the people mercilessly stalked and beaten senseless in the street - video recorded for the world to see.  Can they live with it?  Sounds like the happy, joyous days of Germany circa 1930's?  Yeah, what a great reference to base your national policies on!

BaselWorld is like some goofy "pimp life" for me - free drinks, free meals, comped entertainment, the ridiculous events put on by watch companies with more dollars than sense.  I'm not going to lie to you, I look forward to it.  But I also hope that I don't check my sense of right at the coat check room.

OMEGA - I never thought I would write the following words - I have more respect for Budweiser right now than I do for you.  People living 10 miles from the Olympics don't have enough to eat?  People persecuted and victimized?  Beaten with the full approval of the government?  Do you NOT see the parallels to Hitler and the Berlin Olympics?  I'm not judging anyone covering the event -my admittedly messed up views of the world are my own.  I write this from the "exile" of Santa Barbara - It is easy for me to have an opinion.  And as my teaching colleagues from St. Andrews would often remind me - opinions are like backsides ; )  But with sponsorship comes certain responsibilities.

In all honesty, despite my love for OMEGA, I can't get behind Sochi in any way, shape or form.  Several companies have made the commercially unpopular decision to withdraw their sponsorship.  Watches shouldn't be political - and in fairness the Olympics shouldn't be political.  But in fairness, they have been political since "Hitlers' Games" in Berlin.  And yes, that charming Austrian lad made the Olympics political way back when.

Let me say this now, clearly and without any possibility of misunderstanding -
I love my OMEGA watches.  I deeply respect OMEGA.  But I cannot support OMEGA's involvement in the Sochi games.

Admittedly, I am a romantic.  I expect more from OMEGA and I am disappointed by their blind devotion to commercialism and Olympic tie-ins in the face of a totalitarian regime.  And as a self-admitted romantic, I expect that the majority of folks out there will not agree with me.

What's my beef?  Why is this such an issue?  In the interest of full disclosure,  I went to school with the son of another "pariah" - Tommie Smith.  Remember the black glove at Mexico City?  Yes, that was Tommie Smith.  I am PROUD to say that I was a classmate (however briefly) of his son Kevin back at the Eastwood School in Oberlin, OH.  I will also tell you - Kevin didn't comment on that (the protest).  He just said:   "Let me show you something about my dad"… and he opened the Guinness Book of World Records, and there he was - Tommy Smith!  It was 1974 or 1975, the picture was from Mexico City.  We were kids.  And that Olympics happened right about the time we were both born.  We didn't even think about stuff like this.  He was black, I was white.  We were friends.  So OMEGA, I guess it's safe to say that I take things like this a little personally.  OMEGA - all about timing - that would be a partnership for you - the man who was the fastest man in the world at the time, and was willing to let it go in the pursuit of what he felt was right.  That I can get behind.  That is a watch I would buy!

And if it's time to "pay the piper" for my less than mainstream views, and this means my BaselWorld appointment is canceled, I understand and respect it, but it is time to be counted.  And OMEGA - I expect you to count me.  I love your company, I love your watches, but I cannot be silent.  I expect more from you - the world expects more from you.  You are now bigger than ROLEX.  You are now the leader - it is time to act like it.

So you want to really honor two people who truly idealize the Olympic ideal?

Tommie Smith and John Carlos.  These men embody what are supposed to be  the Olympic ideals.  So instead of serving up prawn cocktails washed down with champagne at Olympic pavilions for the rich, famous (and white) celebrity guests, maybe take a few minutes - and a few watches - and recognize some men and women who really embody the Olympic ideal.  

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