Archive for August 9th, 2008


Let the games begin!

As so many of my friends will immediately tell you, I’m not much of a sports guy. I don’t watch a lot of sports, I haven’t played any since I stopped rec department baseball in about fourth grade. Heck, it took a hurricane for me to full appreciate the importance of the Saints to the city of New Orleans.

But I love the Olympics.

I’ve always loved the Olympics, for as long as I can remember. From the opening ceremonies to the final dousing of the torch, I watch every second I possibly can — summer or winter, doesn’t matter. Bicycling, hockey, basketball, ice dancing, track, curling… I’ll watch it. Last night the 2008 games in Beijing, China, opened with what many are justifiably calling the most spectacular opening ceremonies of all time. I watched every second of that, and since I woke up this morning I’ve been watching volleyball, beach volleyball, rowing, swimming, and whatever else they saw fit to put on the TV.

There are a lot of reasons I love the Olympics. For one thing, for a lot of American athletes it’s the only chance they’ll get to shine. Let’s face it, if it weren’t for the Olympics, how many of us would know names like Michael Phelps and Amanda Beard (swimming stars)? How would the equestrian champions or the rowing champions find exposure outside of their own little circles? What are the chances of synchronized swimming getting played on TV before midnight?

But that isn’t the only reason — I watch basketball and hockey too, and those are games populated by superstars. So why does it resonate with me? It’s a symbolic thing. The Olympic games are, ideally, a chance for the people of the world to put aside their differences and come together to celebrate the greatest of us — the strongest, the fastest, the highest. There’s a degree of national pride involved. This morning, I saw three American girls I’ve never heard of before sweep the gold, silver, and bronze medals in a fencing category, and I bubbled up when I saw all three flags raised together. And although I of course pull for the Americans in any sport, I don’t begrudge anyone else who cheers for their team. They keep saying on the news that the people of China view the Olympics as a chance to change their perception in the eyes of the world. They’ve got a long way to go, clearly, in the arena of human rights, but if they’re honestly making a change, this will be their chance to show it.

It’s about unity, and determination, and although I’m not the sort who likes to elevate athletes to heroic status, chances are the ones who actually deserve that label — from all over the world — will be on display in Beijing over the next 16 days. I’ll be watching for them all.


A few reviews for you today, gang:

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