As I write this the Olympic games are about 1/2 over but some of the games haven’t even begun yet so I’m taking a little liberty in my “beginning” title. The Olympic Games are a twice in 4 year splurge for me. As a believer in fairness I find the assemblage of the world’s athletes for competitions based in the utmost fairness to be supremely inspiring. (Fairness at least at the moment of play because it’s obvious that in terms of training resources many nations are severely disadvantaged.)
You know I’m not a sports nut, but for 2 weeks during the Winter Olympics and 2 weeks during the Summer Olympics I put aside almost everything to watch extraordinary talent and training. There’s always that slight disconnect between the athletes who get hyped in advance of the games, and those who fulfill the promise of their events. I find that fascinating because the media are interested in selling advertising and they sell more advertising at higher prices based on the interesting in individual athletes — sometimes they guess right; other times they flub their prognostications; either way it gives us a glimpse into what the media think WE like.
I have been watching the Olympics as long as many of the years they have been broadcast as I could. We didn’t see much of the games 4 years ago — we were in Oregon and our TV reception left a lot to be desired. This time I have the luxury of good reception and even better DVR capability so we can tape it live and watch what we want at our convenience.
There are so many ways to look at the games. When I was younger there was a lot of talk about biorhythms and even though those ideas have faded from popularity one thing you learn about athletes and competition is that not all competitors come to an event equally prepared, or equally fit. People have good days and bad days; they get fatigued; the become elated; some visualize better than others; some are happy to simply have a great experience while there are those for whom nothing short of a gold medal is acceptable.
It struck me this year that so far several of the well hyped athletes aren’t living up to their promotions. One is left to wonder whether it isn’t the notoriety they wanted and not the medal at the games. It’s not my place to judge anyone but I find myself less interested in athletes who end up in front of the camera very much before the games.
I love the stories of the unheard about athletes who exceed everyone’s expectations. That’s true glory to me.
A lot has changed over the years. When I was younger we saw fewer hours of coverage but we also saw more coverage of smaller nations. Now we have a more hours of coverage but so much is limited to US athletes and major competitor countries, and more about the backstories of athletes. I miss hearing about smaller countries. The games ought not (in my opinion) to be just about the winners. I’d like to see more about the competition.
A lot of folks love figure skating, and that’s Ok. But for myself I don’t even watch the skating competition. Maybe it’s that we live here in Milwaukee where the Petit Ice Center is a competition rink for training and I’d rather hear about something we don’t hear about during the year. We love the sliding events and skiing so we’re glued to the TV when any of them are being shown.
It’s too bad that national disputes can’t be settled by athletic competitions. Or better yet by letting the country leaders duke it out in a ring… Why send hundreds of thousands of young men and women to war when leaders would be a lot slower to declare war if THEY were the ones that had to enter the rink of war and compete for their nation. Still, the competitive nature of these humans we see on the screen is awe inspiring. I can’t imagine training day in and day out for years or decades to do an event that lasts minutes. It’s a testimony to human determination that rivals the accomplishments of scientists who put men on the moon and hurtling through the sky.
I can’t engage in the kind of activities most of these events involve but that doesn’t mean that I can’t appreciate them.
If you have time I’m hoping you too will take in the skill and stamina of these athletes and appreciate the amazing bodies we have, how with little effort and training we can teach ourselves to do amazing things!