As I write this post, we are on the eve of the Closing Ceremony. So sad. I get so excited to hear that Olympic theme play on NBC, and it’s anthem will only be heard a couple more times hailing from London. I’ll miss the Today Show reporting from the IBC. I’ll miss seeing interviews with people who can confidently call themselves the world’s best trampoliner. I’ll miss Bob Costas tucking me in each night.
To say that I think the Olympics are cool is a major understatement. I’m a full on fanatic! I’ve always been that way. I commit to the Olympics. I’ll watch whatever NBC is showing–from badminton to table tennis to judo to cycling to volleyball to swimming to track and field. It doesn’t matter. I have my favorites, of course, but I’m tuned in for a solid two weeks to whatever they feel like broadcasting.
I’ve grown up loving the Olympics. The only thing weird about that statement is that I’m not what you’d call a sports fan. In fact, anyone who knows me would never put sports on my top five loves list. Correct that–they wouldn’t put it on my top 100 list. I never watch sports. I don’t attend sports events. I just don’t care for them all that much. Never really have. Maybe the amount of energy I put into them for two years every two weeks just doesn’t leave me any in-between. I’m fine with that. And really, when do I ever do what’s expected anyway.
One of the things I love about the Olympics are that, much like the conferences I love so much, they are an opportunity to learn. Strange, obscure facts as well as ones I probably should’ve already known. But here we are, coming to the end of London 2012, and I’ve yet again learned a few things that I’d like to share with you.
What I’ve learned about the world:
- I watched an amazing runner from Eritrea, a country I’d never heard of. So I looked it up.
- 2012 was the first year all participating countries sent both male and female athletes. The women from the three countries that had previously held out, Qatar, Brunei and Saudi Arabia, served as an inspiring example and reminder to the rest of the world. Their performance at the games wasn’t nearly as important as their presence.
- Despite our sometimes vast differences, sports provides a common language that can break down barriers. I loved seeing the camaraderie and sportsmanship between athletes. It wasn’t necessarily a revolution, but a good reminder as someone who usually pays no attention to sports.
- People are incredible. From Oscar Pistorius to Hiroshi Hoketsu to Kelli Wells to Kirani James to Jessica Ellis to Manteo Mitchell to Oksana Chusovitina, the Games have been chocked full of remarkable people doing remarkable things. I am so envious, yet so grateful to the journalists who travel all over the world to find out the stories behind the strengths. They are indeed worth hearing.
- The world is obsessed with the US. Best Friend Heather confirmed for me that, yes, no matter which country is playing you can count on American music being played in the background. I shudder to think about some of those artists being our ambassadors to the world.
- The Games unite us as one globe. For two weeks, many of us from every nation around the world are huddled in front of our televisions to witness the next great act. Of course, we cheer on our home team, but we cheer for every athlete who has overcome great obstacles to be seen on our little screens. We celebrate with them. We cry with them. (Come on, you know you do too). We revel in the human spirit, no matter where it comes from.
What I’ve learned about the US:
- 2012 was the first time that there were more women on Team USA than men. And they proved their worth by bringing home a majority of the medals.
- We are competitive, and privileged, but hopefully not yet to a fault. I see some of these Asian and Eastern European countries competing, and hear what their athletes must give up in order to compete, and am thankful that those restrictions are not placed on our athletes (at least that I know of). One Asian gymnast had been home something like 17 days in the last five years or so. Another was “spared” news of the death of family members so that she could compete. Others are chosen as small children to live out the destiny that was made for them. Wow–so unfair. I can’t begin to imagine what our athletes give up to live their dreams, but at least they have the choice.
- We rule the pool and women’s beach volleyball! I feel especially invested in athletes that compete in multiple games because it means their story is told numerous times, and I’ve probably seen all of them that take place during each Olympics. I was so excited and so proud to see Michael Phelps and Kerri/Misty go out with a bang. I’ve seen their major Games moments along the way, and was happy to have witnessed their journey. What amazing pieces of Olympic history to have seen, even from afar!
- Team USA likes to have fun! They are very series and competitive athletes, but I love to see them enjoying life and the games as well. Thank you Today Show for many of those moments!
- As technology increases, the uniforms decrease. I won’t lie; I’m a little afraid for what’s to come in Rio, especially since it’s the birthplace of the thong.
What I’ve learned about myself:
- The reason I’ve always loved the Olympics are because I love the stories of the athletes. As a non-sports-watcher, I get sucked into the Games because every few minutes, interspersed between the swimming and the running and the jumping and the throwing, there is a triumphant tale off the field, which was many times, even more astounding than what the competition provides. It proves my theory than any person at any time in any place, has an incredible story.
- I want to be better. Sure, watching the Olympics makes me feel old and out of shape and like I’ve done nothing with twice the life of most of the athletes on screen, but they also make me want to be better. Not necessarily physically, though that’s part of it, but just overall. You see the dedication that these people put into their craft. Their time. Their effort. Their heart. And it’s just plain inspiring. I want to be better. Better today. Better tomorrow.
- My loyalty, like most everything else, is conditional. I usually start out cheering for Team USA, but then Bob Costas shows me the story of a man who is the first chance his country has at a medal, or a woman who is the first woman in her country to participate, or a man who could be his country’s first medal in gymnastics, or a small girl who’s got the weight of her country on her shoulders–and I crumble. I think, well, maybe this athlete could get a medal this time. USA already has so many. Or maybe, just maybe, there will be a tie for gold. It was fantastic to see Grenada, Botswana, Montenegro, Cyprus and Guatemala win their first-ever medals. I’m so happy for them!
- I’m completely under the influence of the Olympics. I’ve been craving fish and chips for two weeks.
- My tear ducts are Olympics-worthy. It’s amazing how many tears I continually shed for these people in two weeks. If Hallmark produced the Olympics, I would be an absolute puddle.
It’s been an amazing two weeks. I’m excited to see what London has in store for the Closing Ceremony. I loved the Opening Ceremony. Very British. Quite cheeky. It will be a lovely bookend to an unforgettable two weeks, I’m sure.
It’s on my bucket list to attend both a summer and winter Olympics. Luckily, there’s always one to save up for. My fingers are especially crossed for Madrid to win the 2012 bid.
Citius, Altius, Fortius. (“Faster, Higher, Stronger”)
It sure was.
And it will be again.
See you in Sochi!