3 Reasons the Olympics Rock

I’ve never been into sports. Even as a kid when nearly everyone at my school was playing at least one of the school sports, I was not–nor did I particularly mind that I wasn’t. But every two years or so, for a couple of weeks I become obsessed with sports. Wish-I-had-cancelled-all-nonessential-activities-for-the-entire-duration level obsessed. There is something about the Olympics that captivates me in a way unlike anything else.



Photo Credit: Agberto Guimaraes

First of all, there’s the togetherness of the Olympics. So many countries and people groups represented, all united around the common goal of pursuing sports–whether it’s participating themselves or watching. International competitions happen on a regular basis, but for the Olympics, everyone pulls out all the stops. TV networks dedicate days and days of programming to it, fans come from nearly all the countries in the world (having never attended the Olympics, I can’t personally vouch for this, but I imagine it’s likely to be true), and an entire city gets taken over by it. Even for those people who don’t travel to be a part of the event, we feel a part of something as we watch on our screens, discuss it over lunch, and gasp over it via social media. For both the lovers and the haters of the Olympics, there is a kind of bond, a unity all its own.

Second, there’s the dedication. I consider myself to be a fairly loyal person, and I’m dedicated to certain things, but I cannot even fathom dedicating my entire life and livelihood to a sport like many athletes do. While there’s a piece of me that thinks they’re a little over the top about the whole thing, there’s another piece of me that deeply admires the kind of dedication it takes to focus so much time, energy, and physical strength on one activity the way Olympians do. Training years for perhaps a 10-second run requires a single-minded focus I would do well to carry into aspects of my own life.

Third, there’s the sheer thrill. Swimming gets at this the most for me–the races won and lost with mere hundredths of a second making the difference, or sometimes even dead ties–but other sports certainly have it too. The nail-biting anxiety of waiting to see how the other athletes will perform and how the judges will award certain elements of a routine, the unadulterated joy on the face of an unexpected champion, the beauty of athletes so in control of their bodies in a way that seems almost impossible. There’s also the magnificent complexity of an event as large as the Olympics actually taking place–all the coordination, the travel, the scheduling it takes to pull off such a feat.

There are downsides to all of this too, of course. Togetherness, dedication, and thrill all have their flip sides of discord, addiction, disaster, and more, all of which run rampant at the Olympics. Steroids, corruption, violence, cheating, overly inflated egos–the list could go on and on. Yet I don’t think it would be possible to have an event like the Olympics that’s completely free of all these unfortunate realities, and their existence doesn’t outweigh the many positive attributes.

So for the next week, unless I have a prior commitment, I can likely be found on my couch, watching the Olympics. Yes, I will cheer too loudly at athletes who are on another continent, I will talk too emphatically about people I’ve never met but feel as though as I know, and yes, I will cry over the inspirational stories and the underdog athletes no one thought would win. And in two years, I will do it all again.

Til next time…


p.s. What do you like about the Olympics?

Paralympics 2012…Thanks for Nothing, NBC

A month ago, I wrote about my love for the Olympics.

I think they’re really great, and I was sad when they were over.

Then I remembered that the London 2012 Paralympic Games  started August 29 and run through September 9.

So I started doing some research, looking for when events were going to be on TV so I could watch them. I’ve never watched the Paralympics before, but I was even more into the Olympics this year than in years past, and I was looking forward for a way to continue that excitement.

Except it is much, much more difficult. Because thanks to NBC, there is little to no coverage of the Paralympic Games in the U.S. I found some live streams from the Team USA Paralympics website (if you’re interested in watching), but that’s it.

Really NBC? I realize the Olympics take a significant commitment in regards to manpower and air time, but to not show ANY of the Paralympic Games is disgraceful. These athletes have trained as long and as hard as those in the Olympics, if not more so, yet the network who blew up my news feed and Twitter stream with information about those Games can’t see fit to air even an hour of summary coverage a day.

Admittedly, I haven’t paid much attention to the Paralympics before this year, and for that I feel bad. One of the reasons I love the Olympics is because I find them inspirational; I love to hear the stories of how the athletes got to where they are now. I am sure I would find the stories of Paralympic athletes just as inspirational, if not more so.

From the tiny bit of coverage I saw today, I watched Women’s 100M races. They can run faster than I will ever be able to–and some of them are blind. Oscar Pistorius made history this year by being the first athlete to compete in both the Olympics and the Paralympics. Evan O’Hanlon, featured in the video below, has cerebral palsy, and won gold today in the Men’s 100M.

THESE are the types of people we should be looking up to, who should be household names alongside Michael Phelps and Gabby Douglas, yet NBC is choosing not to tell these stories.

This isn’t a topic I typically write about, but for some reason this time around it upsets me greatly that in the United States, in the year 2012, NBC won’t show the Paralympics. It’s disgusting.

So thanks for nothing, NBC. Instead of watching you, I will find live streams, however sketchy they may be, and get my Paralympics fix that way.

Til next time…


And This is Why I Love The Olympics

It’s my favorite time that only comes once every two years.

Yes folks, it’s the Olympics. In London this year, the lovely city that I had the pleasure of visiting just a few months ago. The views of the city during the Games makes me want to go back, oh, yesterday, but for now I’ll have to stick to dreaming of going back.

My affection for London aside, I love the Olympics. LOVE them. I’m not entirely sure when this fascination started, but I do my best to make sure I watch as much of them as possible. Certain sports hold more appeal for me than others, but overall, there’s just something about the Olympics that’s special.

  • There’s something pretty neat about almost every country in the world taking part in one activity. If you read up on the history of the Games, you soon discover there’s been a considerable amount of drama surrounding the Games, with countries boycotting certain Games, some being cancelled due to war, and a myriad of other not-so-lovely circumstances. But when the athletes are on the track, or in the pool, or perched on the balance beam–the drama probably doesn’t seem so important. What matters there is the competition, the chance to excel at whatever sport they’ve spent months and years practicing. The conflict between countries fades, and it becomes individual and team battles that spur the athletes on to keep trying.
  • Few things produce such instantaneous emotional reactions as a great victory or crushing defeat.

    You can’t fake excitement like this.

    Last night I watched the Ukrainian Men’s Gymnastics Team believe they were going to be receiving a bronze medal…only to be pushed off the podium after a Japanese gymnast’s score was contested, then raised. As the Ukrainian men’s faces fell, I wanted to hug them all. Nearby, the British men celebrated their first men’s gymnastic medal in years and years, in front of a crowd of their home country. I wanted to hug them too. (Granted, I frequently want to hug many people in everyday life) But the raw emotion seen in the Games gets me out of my seat, giddy with excitement, as well as holding back tears. And I love it.

  • Patriotism. It’s not something I have a ton of experience with, but the Olympics stirs it up in me. Even if I’ve never heard of the person before, if they live in a different state than I do, or seem, from their Twitter stream at least, like they might actually be a jerk in real life, if they’re sporting the stars and stripes, I’ll probably be pleased if they win. Not that the US is the only team I’ll cheer for, but they’re the first ones I’ll cheer for. Because even though the US is kinda messed up sometimes, we produce some mighty fine athletes, and I am more than willing to support their success.

I could go on and on about why I love the Olympics. I’m not naive to think they’re perfect; I know that, like everything in life, these displays of athleticism and talent have been tainted and corrupted, sometimes with visible outcomes. But I will keep watching, keep cheering, and keep enjoying…at least for the next 12 days.

Til next time…