It makes me crazy that McDonald’s is the international Restaurant Sponsor for the Olympics. Every two years, I see that logo connected with what is supposed to be the ultimate test of athletic ability and I cringe.
I did, however, decide to investigate my high-and-mighty stance during Sochi’s run. As I was sitting there in my stupor brought on by a nasty cold virus, I wondered what other company would be up to the challenge? Which other restaurant is known internationally, has a foothold in every community it inhabits, and would be able to show an organizational benefit to the, undoubtedly, extraordinary expense?
Like it or not, it costs a ridiculous amount of money to host the Olympics. As lovely as the thought is to attract the best of the best to one competition and to let them slug it out for world supremacy, the cold hard fact is that someone is footing this bill. Someone is building the venues, someone is housing all these athletes, and someone needs to find ways to offset the costs. Even without taking into account the legacy cost of these venues (apparently, Greece built 22 venues for their Olympics in 2004 and, according to the CBC, only 1 is still in use. Twenty one of these venues have been abandoned), the immediate costs for the roughly 4 weeks — including the Paralympics — is staggering, even for the most economically stable city and country.
So, first of all, who is going to look at McDonald’s and say, no thanks — we don’t want your money? And second of all, who else will jump into the spot? Burger King? KFC? They’re really the only two other companies who have even a fraction of the international appeal of McDonald’s and how are they better? They’re still offering calorie- and fat-rich foods that no world-class athlete could possibly eat more than a few times a year.
What have I learned from my navel-gazing session? Well, that as much as I really don’t like that logo attached to the Olympics, the truth is that without McDonald’s, the games probably wouldn’t be possible in the format we’ve come to expect. I’ve also discovered that it says more about us than about the Olympics that our most internally entrenched and financially successful restaurant is one that offers nourishment that is the polar opposite to that needed for optimal performance, whether in a physical competition or even just in our daily lives. And, lastly — because clearly I’m on a roll — just because I don’t like something doesn’t mean that there’s a better solution.
I’ve tried, I really did, sitting here in my pajamas with copious amounts of tea cups and tissues surrounding me. I didn’t come up with a different answer. But I hope someone else does. Because, truthfully, it makes me crazy to see that logo attached to the Olympics.