What Do The Olympics Mean To You?
Are they one of the greatest events in the world; or do they disrupt your usual television schedule? Are they tainted with bias, scandal and corruption; or do they showcase the talents of outstanding young athletes? Are they to be used for political statements, or, for a few weeks every four years, do they unify all of us? At the end of the day should we have a medal tally; or just see who triumphed? Do the personal stories mean more than the actual contests; or is all that just fluff? Do they allow too many sports; or should everything be included?
Believe it or not, there is one answer to all those questions. Yes. The majority of the world loves the Olympics for those points and many more. Your connection may be anything from having nothing else to watch to having a secret self that’s competing in your prized sport.
It is the most costly venture for any city that wins the bid to hold the Games, but next to the photography of a major network covering an event, any promotion for the host country is amateurish. Be as cynical as you want, the opening ceremonies are utterly spectacular and can drop jaws. Seeing your flag enter the stadium can swell the chest. Finding a hero by rooting on the favorite or cheering for the underdog who doesn’t win but gives their all is worth it. In addition, recalling how we once participated in sports in school or on the weekends electrifies the reflexes of every great armchair wannabe.
How The Olympics Bring Us Back To Our Youth
Part of us is there. We’re putting our feet in the blocks for track, we’re adjusting our goggles for swimming, we’re spotting the mat for our dismount. We smell the chalk on the gymnasts hands, the chlorine in the pool, the sweat on the marathoners. Before that signal sounds, our hearts skip a beat. We feel for them. We scream for them.
Carl Sandburg once said “I go home to fall in love with the world again.” Could one reason we watch be to fall in love with youth again? We want to see that all isn’t lost for this generation, that there are still kids who get up insanely early to dedicate themselves to something other than cell phones or video games; that there are parents who will do whatever it takes to be sure they get the best training; and that big companies who usually protect their bottom line will sponsor a team even when the odds aren’t in their favor. We cross gender, racial, and religious boundaries to see those moments of pure glory: When a mere human becomes Zeus himself and brings glory down from the heavens. In a jaded world moments of profound awe don’t come very often, but there is no lack of that in the Olympics.
Part of our draw to the Games is its history and roots in mythology. How can you not be intrigued to hear that Hercules, a son of Zeus, organized the first competition in Olympia, Greece, hundreds of years before Christ was born? It was Hercules himself, that myth says, that gave the games their name. Since then the most fantastic and horrible things have happened during their tenure.
Names That Define The Olympics
From Eric Liddell to Jesse Owens, from the Munich Massacre to the Jamaican Bobsled team, we have moments that make and break our hearts. Some of the most celebrated athletes have been discovered or showcased during the Olympics: Fanny Blankers-Koen, Jim Thorpe, Muhammad Ali, Nadia Comaneci, Peggy Fleming, Mark Spitz, Apollo Ono, Michael Phelps. The list could go on for many, many pages. Every spectator has a story that touched them, and an athlete that surpassed their expectations.
Perhaps the creed itself is what hooks our hearts: The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph, but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered, but to have fought well. It is a goal to apply beyond sports, and the best in our selves knows it and admires such an ideal.
The True Participants of The 2012 London Games
On July 27th of this year, the Summer Olympics will begin in London, England. History will unfold in front of us. Records will be broken, dreams realized, and medals given to those favored and those who came out of the blue because it was their time. There will be personal bests. There will be great stories. We’ll be watching, and we’ll be beside those who go home to parades and those who go home to try again in four years.
They are what we wish we could do. They are how the world should be every day. “Citius, Altius, Fortius!” Latin for Swifter, Higher, Stronger! is the Olympic motto. Best wishes to all the participants, which also means to every one of us. That may be the best reason of all to watch the Summer Games of the XXX Olympiad.
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