How Should We Look at the Olympics?

I spent the summer of 1976 in Switzerland at a house far up on an alp with little TV reception. As an Olympics fan, I was disappointed I wouldn’t get to watch the games as frequently as we did at home, but I was optimistic.  Afterall, surely the Swiss and the Italian family members would want to cheer for their teams?

No.

I saw one grainy performance, I can’t even remember the sport now, and that was all.

I survived just fine.

But it reminds me that not all the world views the Olympics through the same technicolor splendor and excitement as USA.

Indeed, I’d wager many people in the world would rather not see a behomoth team like USA win all the time.

Can you imagine? Athletes from other nations would like to hear their anthem played while they stand on the podium, too. They’d like to watch their flag be raised.

And since many of them feel like little Davids against the American Goliaths (sometimes literally), they’re rooting against my “home” team. 

I suppose that’s why I’ve felt uncomfortable in the past with the unashamble rooting for the USA which goes on over the TV airwaves. I suspect athletes from all the countries have personal stories of hardship, endless hours of practice, and dreams that have little chance of being fulfilled.

Which is why I enjoyed the 1993 Disney film, Cool Runnings, about an unlikely quartet of track stars from Jamaica who put together a bobsled team for the Calgary Olympics.

Like so many other athletes, they wanted to compete and to do so at their best. Jamaica has never won a bobsled medal, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t tried.

I’m thankful this year NBC will air (via the Internet for those who can access it), all the competitions for all the sports and all the different country’s teams.

That makes it feel more like an Olympics–a real world competition– to me.

How about you?

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1 Comment

  1. I love the Olympics but haven’t watched them since 1998. If I stopped to watch I’d sit down and not get anything done for 2 weeks.

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