With the exception of women's gymnastics, the Olympics have pretty much been a big bag of turds for the last forty years. Aside from the general boredom, there was the the massacre of hundreds of student protestors in Mexico City in 1968, the massacre of Israeli athletes in Munich in '72, our boycott of the Commies in 1980, the Commies' boycott of us (and Mary-Lou Retton!) in 1984, East German women, and now all this blah-blah-blah about Tibet. What to do? "There is only one way left to improve the Olympics: to permanently end them."

A permanent end to the Olympics might actually not be that difficult. All it would really take is a single act of courage and morality by the United States to pull out of the Games forever on the basis that the mission is not coming close to being served. An American departure would severely dilute the Games since it would no longer be a world competition of anything.

But a far stronger factor in the exit of the American team would be the likelihood that American corporations would stop backing the Olympics with their megamillions. It would also severely diminish the willingness of American networks to continue to pay mind-boggling sums for the broadcast rights to the Olympics, which in the case of NBC was about $2.2 billion for the Games in 2010 and 2012. If Americans aren't playing, Americans won't watch.

In place of the Olympics, world championships would still be held in individual sports as they are now, but perhaps at permanent venues designed for optimum performance. This would be a good thing for athletes. For all the hype, the Games often don't provide the greatest performances.

[NYT ]