Friday, February 19, 2010

0 Freelance Friday: Ode to the Olympics

For Patrick it's a given. He's a fourth generation Red Sox fan, run a couple of marathons, and reads religiously. I did not grow up in a sports-watching household. I was never a competitive (or even halfway decent) athlete. But let me tell you, I love love love the Olympics!
Maybe it's because the Olympians are all so bright-eyed and bushy tailed. They're not the too cool for school pro athletes you see being interviewed on PTI. Baseball players have 162 games each season, so each at bat isn't that big a deal. Olympians, on the other hand, get to compete only once every four years--for many it's a once in a lifetime chance to show the world what they're working with! And you can see it as they throw themselves into each race, triple toe loop, or Double McTwist 1260. The raw emotions, the stories behind the performances...I'm not ashamed to tell you I teared up when Lindsey Vonn got her gold medal.
And what I love is that the entire world stops to watch. They leave behind their debates over healthcare and taxes and rally round their athletes. And not just to rally around their national team; you could hear the multilingual roar in the arena when married couple Shen and Zhao from China performed their gold medal skate 18 years in the making. So often international competition is manifested in a negative way, be it protectionist tariffs or all out war. The Olympics is a much healthier and more entertaining dose of rivalry.

My friend Matt from college wanted to be a sportscast announcer. I once asked him why he liked sports so much and he told me, "When you turn on the news, you see poverty and fighting: people failing. When you turn on sports, you see people succeeding." That has stuck with me through every baseball, basketball, football, and whatever other game I am watching with Patrick. But I particularly think that is what the Olympics are all about: people around the globe coming together to celebrate amazing passion, strength, and success.

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