A true man of many talents, Jules Boykoff is hard at work writing a duo of books involving dissent revolving around the Olympic Games. The Politics and Government professor spent three months in Spain studying and five months in London to immerse himself in the culture. His books, “Celebration Capitalism and the Olympic Games” and “Activism and the Olympics: Dissent at the Games in Vancouver and London” are going to the publisher in January 2013.
In his work, Boykoff is tackling the problem with the International Olympic Committee. He brings to light the problems behind the IOC’s economic reasoning for why countries should host the Olympics and how small businesses and individuals are actually hurt by the presence of the Olympics in their home country.
In what Boykoff calls a “formulaic charade,” the Olympics actually hurt tourism and only economically help the corporate sponsors, as the small businesses are “kicked to the curb.” For example, in the Beijing Olympics, about 1.5 million people were displaced to make the Olympic Village. While more developed societies are better at handling displacement, 500 were displaced in London, forcing people to move is still a big deal to those that are moving. The IOC is already working on moving people in the Favelas of Brazil.
In his research, Boykoff said that he was most shocked by the fact that “not until 1981 did the IOC begin allowing women to be members, six full decades after they won the right to vote in the U.S.” He also noted that from 1928 to 1958, women were not allowed to do the 800 meter dash and until 1984, women were not allowed to run the marathon.
Another shocking revelation in his work, Boykoff noted that he interviewed many activists that were protesting the Olympics and that not one of them was anti-Olympic. They were all “anti-certain aspects of the Olympics, like anti-spending.” He added that they were all watching the Olympics and were rooting for their favorite teams.
When asked about the experience, Boykoff said that he enjoyed “really get[ting] totally immersed in it, and going back to it the next day. Truly marinating my mind.” Boykoff spent around 18 hours a day interviewing activists, watching the games and going to public speaking events.
Boykoff commented that the most difficult part of his study of the Olympics was establishing credibility in the Olympic Village. “They’re being bombarded with questions, all the time. Just getting people to talk to me was a challenge at first.” While in London, Boykoff was able to establish connections and that snowballed into him being able to get around.
The germination of Boykoff’s work started in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics where he went to cover anti-Olympic activism. While in Vancouver, he realized that there were bigger controversies arising and he started investigating them. Boykoff noted that talking politics through sports is a good way to get more people involved in politics as sports are generally more popular. Sports are also a great hub for issues of race, gender and class to come to light.
A former soccer player for the University of Portland, Boykoff was drafted by the indoor soccer team Portland Pride of the Nationals Professional Soccer League. He also played on the U.S. Olympic Team (U-23 National Team), representing the United States in international competition. While in London, Boykoff never brought up the fact that be played soccer at the Olympic level.
When asked if he was planning on going to the Olympics in Rio, Boykoff responded with “I do actually want to try learn Portuguese,” with a smile.