Faster, Higher, Fatter?
Fast food outlets have been wanting to attach their advertising to sporting events for many years now. And it goes into overdrive during the Olympics.
One of my fondest memories is of watching televised sport with my grandad when I was a kid. Grampsy and I used to sit in front of the telly roaring in unison as Boonie smashed the Poms all over the MCG or the mighty Newcastle Knights took to the field.
I also remember the Dennis Lillee era of cricket, and how closely in those days Benson & Hedges was associated with the sport, as were Marlboro with formula one and Winfield with rugby league. Before the total ban on cigarette advertising in Australian sport in 2006, these brands were synonymous with their respective sports, which seems weird in today's health-conscious world.
Fast forward to 2012, and the thought of physical activity being associated with unhealthy products seems like a distant memory.
Except, of course, in the case of the all-new, 21st-century London Olympics, which, for my money at least, have been tarnished by continuing to have major junk-food and soft-drink manufacturers as worldwide Olympic partners.
I'm a realist and I understand the commercial nature of the Olympic Games. But I figure that none of these products feature largely in the athletes' preparation. In fact, I'd guess the only world records that the average junk-food peddler can claim for themselves have more to do with obesity and all the associated unhappiness and illness that go with it than feats of speed, strength or agility.
Aren't we getting past this kind of association? Can't we see through this arrangement for what it is: a shameless pitch to get unhealthy products in front of as many people as possible?
I get that these companies have a right to advertise their products (because they're not illegal) and to sponsor events to increase sales. But aren't we getting tired of accepting the blatant contradiction of sponsorship of one of the planet's premier sporting events by junk-food manufacturers?
We tell ourselves that it's all right because the products are legal. But that's what we told ourselves back when Benson & Hedges logos were scattered all over billboards at the cricket in the '80s, which in the cold light of a 21st-century day seems incongruous and dumb.
Will we look back in the future on the Games of the 30th Olympiad and say, "Gawd! What were we thinking?" You bet we will.
Junk food has squirmed its way onto our menus as a legitimate meal choice. It isn't.