Why I love the Olympics…and other things I’ve been planning to write about

The Olympics is, by far, my most favorite thing. I have literally been covered with goosebumps since the opening ceremonies last Friday.

I think the excitement hits me when I see the parade of nations. It has something to do with the wide eyed wonder that covers the faces of the parading athletes. As I see them whip out their smartphones and flip cameras to capture the crowds, I realize that they are people just like me. They cry like me, they breathe like me, they dream like me. And what fills me with joy and excitement is that their dreams are on display for all to see. Most of them have trained their whole lives for this moment and despite the outcomes of their various events, their dreams have pretty much come true. They are Olympians.

I love hearing the stories of the athletes who were discovered as young children. Some person looked at them prancing around and said “that kid has talent, do something with that” and then their life was set on a trajectory that would lead them to the Olympics. Isn’t their something so wonderful about that. That this inherent talent was budding inside of the them, like it was their destiny. Like this is what they were built to do and they love it and they put their heart in it and we all get to watch in amazement as that talent becomes a passion and then a dream and then a dream realized.

Yes, there are disappointing moments. Moments when dreams are crushed. One need only to watch Jordyn Wieber fall into a heap of despair as her dreams of becoming an all around gymnast are crushed to realize that one persons dream is forever linked with one persons nightmare. Those moments make your heartbreak. But there are golden stories, and moving stories and moments where you are truly proud to not be just an American but a human. A person that can hold a dream within your soul and arrive at a moment where that dream becomes your reality.

It is also wonderful to see this coming together of people from every region of the world. The incredible links that bind us all are revealed  and the essence of our humanity is no longer hidden by differences or history or fear.

According to the all knowing source known as Wikipedia, during the ancient games all conflicts between competing states were put on hold when the games were happening. All fighting ceased (hypothetically) and all of that energy was put into the games and the individuals.

Despite this, the Olympic games haven’t been completely free of violence. The Munich massacre and the Atlanta bombing event demonstrate this. The Olympics have also been criticized for over commercializing the games and the debt that countries accrue hosting the games. Yet everything in our society is touched by human fallacies and triumphs. Every moment of human joy, courage, and selflessness is balanced with our tendency towards despair, cowardice, and greed. The Olympics are not exempt.

Yet, I have been captivated by Olympic moments such as Kerri Strug’s gold-caputrung vault

Or Nadia Comeneci’s historic perfect 10

(I really like gymnastics.)

Yet there were also the shocking moments, like yesterdays stunning win by the 15 year old Lithuanian swimmer

Joy knows no ethnic boundaries. Tears of joy translate across languages. Passion is what unites us even when it ignites differences. While I may at times be rooting for the USA, in many ways I am rooting for the human spirit. The Olympics makes me proud to be so much more than just a citizen of the states. I truly feel like a citizen of the world.

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