BP supports US athletes, but how about the Gulf Coast?
by David Weinshilboum
The Olympics are here. I enjoy the Olympics because something unexpected and shocking always happens. In 1980, the USA hockey team performed a “miracle on ice” and defeated the Soviets. In 1996, US gymnast Kerri Strug vaulted on one leg to win the gold medal for the team. And four years ago, Michael Phelps performed the incredible feat of usurping Jared as Subway’s spokesperson. Seriously, I thought that Jared guy was going to be the face of Subway forever. Just imagine what Phelps would’ve accomplished if he had won NINE golds!
The Olympics are also a time of rampant nationalism. I mean, you noticed that all my aforementioned Olympic moments involve Americans, right? Let’s be honest, America LIKES counting medals. We HAVE to beat the likes of China and Japan in something — and it sure as hell isn’t going to be math or science test scores! So we look to the Olympics. We suddenly start rooting for any American to medal, never mind whether the person is an asshole or not. We tell ourselves that Americans have got to win because our country doesn’t lose to freakin’ France or England or Ghana — except in soccer, that is.
Corporations love to tap into this unbridled patriotism. They sponsor the Olympics freely. They remind viewers that true Americans eat McDonald’s, drink Coke and acquire debt through Visa. These companies know their products are bad for us, but who cares? They sponsor the Olympics, so if we dislike obesity, diabetes or high interest rates, we are un-American! Incredibly, I can usually look at these sponsorships pragmatically.
But I have to admit, when I was watching the Olympic trials and learned of ONE company trying to promote their ultra-American status, I just about threw up in my mouth. What company, based on my visceral response, is the worst of the worst?
That’s right BP (British Prevaricator) sponsors American Olympic athletes. These are the same folks who brought us Oil Rig Explosions, Death, and the Gulf Oil Spill. Just to be clear, we have a foreign company that killed workers, laid waste to our habitat and decimated the Gulf Coast’s economy. Now they think they can drop a few mill into the Olympics and everyone will think BP stands for Benevolent Petrol.
I seethed about BP (British Propaganda); I was mad as hell that they were going to taint my Olympic viewing experience. Then it hit me. Why should I be mad? Granted, I live in America, but I’ve no stake in the disaster. Not really. What about all those people down in the Gulf Coast? They had to suffer the effects. Many lost their jobs, their life savings. From what I’d read, thousands remain mired in a horrid claims process and or litigation with BP (Bureaucracy Pinch).
So I called them.
It turns out that while BP (Bullshit Publicity) poured money into the Olympics, they weren’t doing half as much in Louisiana. “British Petroleum screwed New Orleans,” said one fishing industry worker. (I wonder if this form of drilling means BP has violated the Gulf Coast moratorium.) One resident said new meetings regarding financial reimbursements were about to take place. A couple people involved in the fishing industry would not give their names because they remained in legal and financial limbo. Apparently BP (British Punkass) is far more giving when it comes to American athletes than when it comes to the average spill-impacted fishers in Louisiana.
Unsurprisingly, Bastard Petroleum doesn’t appear to be running many ads in the Gulf Coast, at least according to the folks with which I spoke. When informed of BP’s Olympic contributions, one fishing outfit employee expressed frustration.
“They need to come down here and get right with all these people instead of putting money into the games,” he said.
When I visited BP’s web site, I encountered another layer of revulsion. BP isn’t just supporting Olympic athletes. They are supporting Paralympic athletes! To me, the irony is palpable. This business invests in people who have overcome adversity; at the same time, they’ve allowed a region of the United States to remain crippled.
David Weinshilboum, whose initials are the same as a cartoon character, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.