I spent a majority of the opening and closing Olympic ceremonies on Twitter. I also devoted at least a small handful of tweets each night to either events or NBC’s coverage of the events.
A casual glance through the tweets would lead some to believe that I’m not a fan of the Olympics. They would be correct, in part. However, there is a romantic and sentimentalist in me that believes in everything the Olympics is supposed to represent. At least, what the young boy who grew up watching the events with his grandpa and now deceased grandmother thought they represented.
The idea of nations coming together in a spirit of friendship and competition appealed to this kid from Indiana. While I enjoyed playing sports, it was always in a social setting. For me it was that there were a bunch of us getting together to have fun. I wanted to win of course, but I was never devastated if I lost.
I admire athletes who are driven to win, and I can respect those that take it personally when they don’t. I sympathize with those that deal with a sport that is subjective, even if only in part. I ache for the participants who know they lost because for whatever reason didn’t perform to their fullest potential in a given moment. I rejoice with those that celebrate the fact that they made it to the Olympics and know that they have not chance at a medal or even make it past a qualifying heat.
I like the idea that for a short while, our disagreements or energies are focused on personal, team, and national achievements. I like the idea that the closest thing we have to a weapon to see who is best is either a javelin, a hammer, a discus, or a dolphin kick.
I remember the problems that have plagued the Olympics over the years as the spectre of politics has grown or shrunk depending on the events playing out on the International scene. I also remember that Jim McKay could help us take a break from these distractions for at least 10 minutes, by reminding us that the Olympics is also about overcoming personal difficulties and struggles that are no less of a magnitude for those dealing with them.
I paused at times while I was tweeting to consider whether I’ve grown jaded or too cynical about the Olympics. I also wondered if I was simply tweeting what was expected by others watching the broadcast. But I realized that at heart I still believed in and enjoy the games. But there are many things I like and enjoy that it’s ok to prod a little. Sometimes, it’s in the hope that if enough of us do it, something may change for the better in the future. Sometimes, it’s merely pointing something out in a sport that only comes around on national and international TV every four years.
I do know that I’ll be watching the winter Olympics in two years, and planning a host country themed meal for the opening ceremonies. I’ll be sitting with my boys like I did this year, cheering on teams and individuals, marveling at how much time and effort is put into a dive or a toss of a ball while spinning and flipping. I’ll be tearing up when the National Anthem is played and an athlete loses it on the podium. I’ll curse spoilers and commentators who make it all about themselves. I’ll be the kid sitting there just for a little bit with his grandmother.