Why the Olympics Aren't Good for Us,
and How They Can Be


"It's clear that the IOC's model doesn't work, even on its own terms. But as enthusiast Mark Perryman says in his new book on the Olympics, they don't have to be like this. Five key reforms would transform the Games, he argues, cut their cost and make the Olympic ideal more of a reality, in place of the tightly controlled corporate 'mega event' of the next few weeks." —Seumas Milne, The Guardian

"Perryman’s captivating examination of the Olympics is that rare sports book which aims to give us hope and succeeds brilliantly." —VICE.com

"This timely, highly readable book… offers a well-rounded critique of the Olympics and provides a constructive vision for reimagining Olympism." —Jules Boykoff

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About the Book

Sports activist and writer Mark Perryman presents a sharply critical take on the way the Olympic Games have been organized––and an imaginative blueprint for how they can be improved.

The Olympics are promoted as of great benefit for the host city and nation. The organizers insist that the lasting value of the facilities built, the tourism the Games attract, and the popular participation in sport they promote all make the spending of billions of dollars of public money an excellent investment. Such claims are greeted with near-unanimous agreement across mainstream politics and the media.

But outside the capital’s commentariat, enthusiasm for the Games is less uniform. There are those who remain stubbornly skeptical of boosters’ claims. Economists question whether the Olympics will provide the kind of economic regeneration that has been promised. Sports coaches doubt the linkage often made between Gold medal successes and raising rates of popular participation in sport. And the tourism industry has produced reports showing that previous host cities have experienced an overall fall in visitors and their spending during Olympic years.

In this concise, gripping book, written on the eve of the 30th Olympics in London, Mark Perryman raises major questions about the founding myths of the Games. But Perryman, an Olympics fanatic who measures his life in four-year cycles and has the sticker albums of medal-winners from his youth to prove it, hasn’t come to bury the Olympics; rather he wants to revive them. In these pages he sets out a detailed plan for how the Games can be made more inclusive and exciting to watch.

His proposals include: Extending the games from a single host city to an entire country, or even group of countries; using existing stadia with greater spectator capacity than many of the purpose built facilities; expanding competitions held outside of stadia altogether, with more road, cross-country and open water races; increasing the number of events based on sports like running and boxing where international participation is widespread, and reducing the number of those, such as rowing, fencing and equestrianism, where few countries have the facilities to compete; and shifting the onus of the games from corporate sponsorship to the involvement of community and volunteer groups.

In these ways, Perryman’s dream of reviving the Olympics as a genuinely popular event, a People’s Games, could be made a reality. Why The Olympics Aren’t Good For Us… is sure to prompt widespread debate during a summer when sport will be as impossible to miss as the muscular commerce and timid politics serving it up.

Click here for regular blog posts from Mark Perryman.

160 pages
paperback ISBN 978-1-935928-83-6 • ebook ISBN 978-1-935928-84-3

About the Author

Mark Perryman is the author of Ingerland: Travels with a Football Nation and the editor of Breaking up Britain : Four Nations after a Union. He has written for a range of publications, including the Guardian and The Times, and is a regular commentator on the politics of sport for BBC Radio 5, BBC TV News and Sky Sports News. He is a Research Fellow in Sport and Leisure Culture at the University of Brighton and the co-founder of Philosophy Football.


In the Media

LSE Review of Books, August 30th 2012

The Classical, August 10th 2012

The Guardian, August 2nd 2012

The Daily Beast, July 30th 2012

The Onion, July 30th 2012

Tribune Magazine, July 27th 2012

CNN, July 24th 2012

Sunday Morning Live, July 22nd 2012

Mother Board, July 18th 2012

OpenDemocracy, July 6th 2012

Lives; Running, July 6th 2012

The Morning Star, July 3rd 2012

The Substantive, June 26th 2012

Red Pepper, May 24th 2012

Red Pepper, May 18th 2012

Morning Star, May 17th 2012

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