The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

THE OLYMPIC SPIRIT

The games originated in Greece supposedly in 776 B.C. although how or why they began is unknown to us.  Various myths and legends surround their origin.  But we do know that they were intended to give athletes the opportunity to show off their abilities.  Originally, the only athletic event was a foot race.

Today the Olympics are a very big business – and a very partisan one as well.   We identify and measure our success as a country by how well our athlete-representatives do in the games.  How many gold medals did “we” win?  This year’s games are filled with more than the usual amount of contention and back-biting, which is a pity that we devolve to this level when we should be celebrating those who have worked hard to get here – whether they win or lose.

Can you imagine the dedication and focus that these people have put into even having the opportunity to compete in the games?  Imagine the amount of training and practice that consumes a competitor’s life for the years necessary before even learning if she or he will qualify?  If each of us put ten percent as much effort into successfully meeting our own daily challenges, all of our lives would be greatly enriched.

Once again, following an unfortunate tradition that has been around as long as I remember, the real meaning of the games is tarnished by issues which are peripheral to the Olympics.  In the sixties we all pointed fingers at the Russian and other Soviet-bloc judges for their obvious favoritism in giving their athletes superior scores to those of their competitors.

Now we’re throwing people out for sending “tweets”, questioning whether some of these athletes took drugs to enhance their performance and asking whether it was appropriate to withhold the news of the death of one Chinese athlete’s grandparents from her so that she didn’t lose her focus.

There are probably some athletes who have taken drugs.  But if they win a medal under those circumstances, they will have to live with the fact that they didn’t win that medal honestly.  That should, for a conscientious person, be sufficient punishment – knowing they didn’t really earn their reward and recognition.

The Olympics are not – or at least should not be – about national pride.  They should be about the fact that on planet earth, there are many talented and gifted and dedicated people who have, through their effort and commitment, shown each of us that we can choose to be someone special if only we make the decision to be better than we think we are.

It is to all of them, the medalists and those who will go home only with memories, that I dedicate this post.  They are, in my estimation, all winners.  And it is for them that the Olympic torch burns.

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Comments on: "THE OLYMPIC SPIRIT" (14)

  1. Cheers to that post! Can you imagine living in a world where everyone worked as hard as the Olympians in every day life? What a different place it would be.
    They continue to amaze and shine this year, even with all the media fuss and gossip. :)
    Well said. Let the torch burn.

  2. Thank you, Jennifer. It would be a different world. We would spend our time “doing” and that would leave a lot less for “complaining.”

  3. I doubt if real sportspeople see it as some national contest.My dad was a middle distance runner.I often catch him saying how well athlete A or B does something.He always refers to them by name,never by nationality.On the other hand people with commercial/political interests in sports such as team owners,tournament organizers,advertisers and demagogues always try to give sports a gladiatorial flavour.

  4. You left out another silly distraction (and probably others) – the flap about our athletes’ uniforms being made in China.

    Forget that our star athletes have worn Made-in-China uniforms in previous Olympics. Even our Senate Majority Leader had to express his utter dismay over this calamity and embarrassment.

    John Stossel wrote an excellent column recently about why it is an overall GOOD thing that our uniforms are made in China. It can be found at

    http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/political_commentary/commentary_by_john_stossel/myths_we_live_by

    • Thank you for the link. That was quite an insightful report. I seldom pay attention to what the Senate Majority leader (from the metropolis of Searchlight, NV) has to say. If it were up to him we’d all be telling the kids the story of “The Emperor’s New Clothes” as we sat naked in our houses.

      • Didn’t realize Reid is from Searchlight. I’ve been through there a few times — many years ago. The painter Don Schaeffer used to have his gallery there — picked up a couple of our most prized paintings there. I’m thinking it’s possible that the gallery was the only retail establishment in Searchlight at the time.

      • Yep – a town with more rattlesnakes than people. And that is even if you count the politicians among the people and not the snakes.

  5. Cheers indeed for this post, I’ll admit that I feel a bit of pride when the US wins but, still it’s about the competition and the wonderful young people around the world whose hard work has paid off to get them there. Bravo to them all!!!

  6. I could not agree with you more. The games demonstrate athletes in peak performance who demonstrate the variety of ways the human machine we are endowed with is capable of achievement. There are some events that having witnessed them makes one feel proud to be of the human race. These accomplishments temporarily blot out the violence, treachery, slavery, and theft perpetrated by governments on individuals. They clearly demonstrate by contrast that it is the individual who is to be valued above collective if we are ever to build a global peace and a lasting principled respect for each other.

  7. Without doubt, watching some of the events has truly been motivating and inspiring.

  8. Yay! to this post, if only for pointing out that: “The Olympics are not – or at least should not be – about national pride.” Because, this IS how we perceive the Olympic games. The truth is that the Olympics serve as a statement on, measurement of, and representation of each nation’s PRIDE. Inasmuch as this should not be the case, as you so beautifully detail in this post, it is the case. But really, each of us can chose to cheer what we will & I love your sentiment about it: “…there are many talented and gifted and dedicated people who have, through their effort and commitment, shown each of us that we can choose to be someone special if only we make the decision to be better than we think we are.”

    Here! Here! :)

  9. I congratulate all those who worked so hard so that they could participate – under whichever flag they fly or which country they represent.

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