Linda Stamper Boyne: Olympics make you believe
Vail, CO, Colorado
Oh, the Olympics! Back again! I’m just so happy I don’t have to wait four years for my Olympic fix any more.
And to add to the fun, this is the first Olympics my boys have really paid attention to. They are into it!
It’s been fascinating to watch the Games through their eyes. They know the medal count, which events are coming up, who the athletes are. They get excited when an American does well, taking it on almost as if it’s their own achievement.
We watched Lindsey Vonn race to the gold medal together, cheering and high-fiving as she screamed at the finish line when she realized she had won.
We watched in wonder as Shaun White did in the half pipe as only he can do. They were mesmerized by the snowboard cross and skier cross, declaring them the greatest events in Olympic history.
They have fully embraced the Olympic tradition of watching, and passionately supporting, every sport presented to them by NBC, from skiing to skeleton. (Except figure skating. I believe Small Boyne’s exact words, were, “I don’t get it.”)
I think that’s how Olympic athletes are born, by planting the seed of possibility at an early age.
I’m not sure how else one ends up as member of the bobsled team. You have 9- and 11-year-old boys who see these athletes flying down a track on a sled, doing exactly what they love to do, and they say, “Dude, we could do the two-man bobsled. We’d be the Boyne Brothers Bobsled Team. We could keep sledding until we’re old!” And future gold medalists are created!
That’s what I love about the Olympics. They make you believe anything is possible. That anything can be achieved with enough hard work, dedication and determination.
They teach us all that overcoming obstacles has its own rewards.
Well, I love that and the pageantry and the flag waving and the uniforms with more spandex than a Jazzercise convention in 1988, all for the sake of representing the United State of America.
I love to see how the stars and stripes, the red, white and blue are interpreted into the clothing worn proudly by our athletes.
It’s the absolute unabashed displays of patriotism that warms my heart so. Very rare are the occasions when so many people are so publicly proud of their country.
We don’t typically walk around chanting, “USA! USA!” That would prompt more than one sideways glance and eye roll from passers-by.
But right now, we are free to wave our flags and sing our praises for America all we want.
And when the winning athletes stand on the podium and the American flag is in that top position, rising up with the national anthem playing, well, it just doesn’t get any better than that. It’s the pinnacle of national pride.
I think that’s why I was bothered by Shaun White’s display on the podium while getting his gold medal for the half pipe competition.
I don’t think he meant to be disrespectful. And I know he’s proud to represent the U.S., but playing air guitar to “The Star-Bangled Banner” in front of an international audience of millions is not only inappropriate, it’s embarrassing.
He was excited, I get that, but he’s old enough to know better and to control himself for the 60 seconds the song is playing, if for no other reason than to honor all the Olympic athletes who came before him and made it possible for him to be there.
And I don’t buy the argument that it was just an action congruent with the snowboarding culture. When you’re competing at that level and standing on the world stage, step it up. Set a new standard for your sport.
So a note to all future Olympians: You just don’t do that. When the national anthem is playing for you, stand with your hand over your heart, eyes on the flag and think about how lucky you are that you live in a country that lets you do what you just did and express your excitement however you want after the song has ended.
Show some respect for our country, our flag, your fellow athletes and yourself.
Linda Stamper Boyne of Edwards can be contacted through email@example.com
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