The time, the dedication, the TV … The Olympics
Oh, boy! The Olympics are here! I know a lot of people around here prefer the Winter Olympics, what with the skiing and the snow and the luge and all, but it’s probably only because luge is fun to say.
I adore the Summer Olympics.
Growing up in Oregon, we would go to the Track and Field Olympic Trials in Eugene: “Track Town, U.S.A.” they call themselves. We saw the formation of Team U.S.A. in 1972, 1976 and 1980, with the likes of Steve Prefontaine, Frank Shorter, Bruce Jenner, Dwight Stones, Alberto Salazar, Mary Decker, and Edwin Moses.
I guess I got the Olympic bug early. But what kid doesn’t watch the Games and think that maybe they could be there one day, even if they aren’t particularly athletic? There’s always shooting and archery. The Olympics remind me that anything is possible.
Olympic athletes are there for the love of the sport, the drive to be the best, the thrill of competition, the pure essence of what is lost in so many ways in professional sports today. These are the true sports heroes.
I love the profiles of the athletes, their backstories, the struggles they’ve been through and what they’ve overcome to make it to the world’s greatest sporting event. Are they overdone and a little sappy? Well, yeah, but so what? Don’t we deserve some positive, uplifting messages on TV when all the news usually gives us is doomsday, scandal and stories of the hideous side of humanity?
I want to believe in the Olympic spirit and the dedication and commitment of the athletes.
The whole tradition of the Olympics makes me happy. I love the opening ceremonies and how every year the hosting country tries to outdo the previous host. Remember freaky Lillehammer? I have a vague recollection of sitting with my jaw dropped thinking, “What were the organizers smoking when they came up with this?” The 2004 Olympics in Greece was by far the most fabulous. Leave it to the descendents of the originators to do the best work. And when the teams march in, waving flags, all in costume, it just doesn’t get any better. It’s like the U.N. in sweatsuits.
I still get goosebumps when I see the Olympic torch. I love what it represents, that it’s lit at the site of the original Games in Olympia, Greece, and travels to the site of the current Olympics, carried by both the famous and the average citizen, to light the cauldron that burns through the duration of the Games, connecting the past to the present. How cool is that?
And when a U.S. athlete wins a gold medal and we get to watch them standing on the podium realizing a dream with the American flag rising above them and our national anthem playing for the entire world to hear, well, my eyes well up with tears every time. You’d have to have a stone-cold heart not to be moved by that. That’s patriotism at its best.
I’m typically not one to sit and watch sports, but the Olympics are the exception. When else can you get so passionately involved in whether the table tennis team can overcome the odds and beat China? Once was the day when you could only watch what the network chose to air. Now we can watch the opening ceremonies and the big events like swimming, gymnastics and track on NBC. Then we can go find the more obscure events that we don’t normally get to see, like fencing and field hockey, on MSNBC, CNBC, USA, Telemundo and even Oxygen, television for women. All in all, that’s 3,600 hours of coverage, baby! And you can go online at NBColympics.com for more events, clips of the day’s highlights (Ooooh! I love a good montage!), and detailed schedules so you don’t have to miss a minute of the badminton coverage.
You have to love a huge media conglomerate for that.
I. for one, will be glued to my TV and computer for the next 17 days. There may not even be columns from me in the coming weeks. I’m serious. This is the good stuff.
Linda Boyne is an Edwards resident and a regular columnist for the Vail Trail. E-mail comments about this column to firstname.lastname@example.org.