I am a sucker - I admit it.
Or maybe I'm not... you decide.
I love watching the Olympics.
I love the buildup.
I love rooting for my country's team, but I always find myself cheering for individual athletes -- from anywhere -- who show perseverance and defy the odds to win.
And then you have the odds...
Once it was only about sheer ability and will -- and maybe it still is -- I think/hope so.
But many countries and some individual athletes spend fortunes on new methods of training -- scientific methods that remind me of the old Rocky movie where he saws wood and runs in the snow while his adversary trains on computer-driven machinery. We all know who won though.
Then of course, there is doping and drugging -- anything for increasing the odds and still a concern. What does that say about the Olympic spirit?
And yes, the Olympic spirit -- overhyped, overpromised, oversold -- yet for many (me too) still an ideal.
But of course, there are countries and individual athletes who just don't get it. Some won't play and compete against specific competitors for geopolitical or religious reasons (hmmmm...) How is this within the Olympic spirit? Watch out for those -- maybe though, this year it can be transcended....
And then I found this quote by Adolf Hitler which really chilled me and made me realize the negative power that the Olympics can have:
The sportive, knightly battle awakens the best human characteristics. It doesn't separate, but unites the combatants in understanding and respect. He also helps to connect the countries in the spirit of peace. That's why the Olympic Flame should never die.
Talk about spin, but Jesse Owens showed him and the world and managed to win despite the Nazi derision of including a black athlete in a team competing with Aryans. Sadly, the US treated him no better on his return home. Another lesson learned.
Then there was the controversy over a moment of silence commemorating the murder of 11 Athletes at the Munich games 40 years ago. Despite many world and sports leaders weighing in on its importance to Olympic memory and spirit, the IOC ignored the request and the organizers instead did a video tribute that many have interpreted as a tribute to the 7/7 victims in London, but was vaguely billed as a memorial wall for the deceased loved ones of spectators.
And so it goes -- weird science, artificial enhancement, politics, hatred -- all are present at the Olympics as they are in our lives. But I still watch it. So do many tens if not hundreds of millions of people. I get inspired, I sit on the edge of my chair, I cheer and jump up and down and I well up with tears because even more than the veneer of the games as a mirror of all that can be bad in society in our world, when you get right down to it, most of the individual athletes represent all that is good, all that is best in the human experience and soul.
I watch South African sprint runner, Oscar Pistorius, who has a double amputation and has created a new heroic title in the Olympics jargon: "The Fastest Man with No Legs." Some are focused on the science behind his blades, but to me the real story is that he embodies the good spirit of the Olympic games: the endurance to train, confidence to compete and passion to win. Who doesn't watch him and feel inspired?
"Champions aren´t made in the gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them - a desire, a dream, a vision." -- Muhammad Ali
I had the privilege of seeing Ali on Thursday night, at the U.S. Olympic Committee's pre-opening party. He is in a wheelchair, can't speak, can't even really move but his very being radiates champion and as I watched the young hopefuls from Team USA excitedly take his picture and literally bask in his radiance. I knew that desire, dream and vision trump it all.
So I'm back to watching and rooting for any and all with desire, dream and vision because no matter where they rank, those are the winners.
What do you think?