Don’t talk to me about the Olympics unless you are talking about a boycott.

I don’t want to hear about your new favorite obscure sport you discovered watching NBC and I don’t care what small nation you are rooting for at the velodrome. I especially don’t care if you were disappointed or impressed with the spectacle of the opening ceremonies.

As far as I’m concerned, the Olympics are a boondoggle for land developers at the expense of working-class people and a whitewashing mechanism for dictators. Simone Biles deserves a medal for her defiance of the twisties and of the parasites at the ICC.

Call me a hater. I’m fine with it. Many people assume that someone could only hate the Olympics because they are an unathletic egghead who resents jocks. Not so. I grew up being a sports fan, playing soccer, baseball, and lacrosse. I loved the Olympics and couldn’t wait the two years between each opening ceremony. Then I learned some history.

Where to start? Well, there’s always Hitler. But let’s save that for later. Let’s go all the way back to ancient Greece. The legend has it that the games were started for the various Greek states to show off their prowess and earn glory without taking to the battlefield.

This was a big deal in those ancient times, where a single pretty face could launch a thousand ships and pretty much anything was a good excuse to go to war. The most basic and prominent defense of the modern games has always been that they promote international peace and assuage warlike feelings. But let’s just look at places like Afghanistan, Crimea, Syria, Sudan, the South China Sea, and the Strait of Hormuz — just to name a few — and ask ourselves if that argument holds any water.

What the Olympics do is line the pockets of the small-time oligarchs who hold seats on the International Olympic Committee. They also line the pockets of real estate developers and big-time contractors in the host city while sticking the host city’s taxpayers with the bill.

The working people who live there don’t usually get to enjoy the spectacle of the games either; they get to enjoy a beefed-up police force, rerouted traffic patterns, tourists, and potential terror plots. Their bosses who own the shops and restaurants might get a pay day, but then taxes go up too.

The Jewish track star, Milton Green, chose to protest the 1936 Berlin Olympics by sitting out. The rest of the American team went. They went to prove they could beat the Nazis in their own backyard but ended up coming in second in the medal race. Jesse Owens was a hero, but the Nazis still took first place. At home, Hitler used the success of the games to legitimize his fascist takeover. The world sat by and watched.

Vladimir Putin did something similar in Sochi in 2014. Tokyo just defied the World Health Organization and 60 percent of their national population to go ahead with the postponed 2020 games during a still-raging global pandemic. In 2022, Xi Jinping will host, while overseeing the systematic imprisonment of Chinese Uyghurs.

Right about now, many of you will be asking, but what about the athletes? They’ve worked so hard to follow their dreams. Don’t they deserve their moment in the sun?

Frankly, no. Not if it comes at the cost of everything I outlined above. But even if I were to be more charitable than that, and feel for those poor athletes, which on some level I do, I would still worry that something is deeply wrong about spending your whole life obsessively training for the possibility of that sweet minute in the limelight. Most people who do that training don’t make it to the games. Most who do make it to the games, don’t get medals. Most who get medals don’t get seven figure endorsements.

And then when the times comes and the games are over, many of them have nothing to turn to, because they have spent their whole life working toward that early peak.

There are plenty of cases of Olympics athletes who go on to do great things after their games, and I don’t want to detract from that success. But we don’t spend much time reflecting on the ones who struggle. And when we talk about post-games athletes in America, we are usually just thinking about Americans. It’s a different story for the failed athletes who go home to repressive regimes.

In the political news of recent years, we have been hearing a lot about elitism. People don’t like elite politicians, elite bankers, elite journalists, or elite intellectuals. But we never see this criticism directed at the sporting world. People will unabashedly say of the Tom Brady’s, the Michael Phelpses, the Simone Bileses, and the Lebron Jameses, that they deserve every bit of their success because they are simply the best and no one can touch them. Until of course someone does beat them and then they will be the best. We act as if it is offensive to suggest that we should watch sports at any but the highest level. There’s something vaguely fascist about this.

I like to be outside and watch a game unfold, whether I am at Fenway or at the local high school. It’s more interesting to watch flawed athletes learn and compete than it is to watch to very best crush all contenders. I like to imagine a world where the NFL and the ICC and the NBA are all dissolved, and their billion-dollar franchises dispersed to regional leagues that promote community and local athletic professionalism.

Imagine if no one made a hundred million dollars playing basketball, but tens of thousands of strong athletes could make a decent five-figure annual salary playing for their hometown squad. And I could pay a reasonable admission to go and watch them.

I’d take that over the Olympics any day.

W. W. Matteson is a writer who lives in Hope, where he weaves tales about Maine’s coast and mountains.