Let the Games Begin!
July 26, 2012
. . . for the glory of sport and the honor of our teams.
- from the athlete's portion of the Olympic Oath
I should say right up front that I am not a sports enthusiast.
The rules of football and baseball elude me (even after four years in pep band). I played soccer, but I had no idea what I was supposed to be doing most of the time. The closest I come to having a "favorite team" is preferring Criminal Minds after Mandy Patinkin left. I really don't get sports.
But I love the Olympics.
It dates me a bit, but my best Olympic story is probably the first one told about me - when I was about three years old, I marched up to a little orange flag marking a gas line in our yard and put my hand over my heart and sang something approaching "The Star Spangled Banner" at it. That was the year that Mark Spitz won seven gold medals at the Summer Olympics. I don't remember seeing him do it, but apparently the song they played for him made an impression.
I haven't missed an opening ceremony since. It always annoys me when the networks put all the commercials in during the march of the athletes. I want to see them. Any one of them could be the best in the world at something. Sure, there will be some terrible disappointments, but there will be miraculous victories, too. And just imagine - the best in the world. Officially, with all the world watching. The best in the world.
It's naive, I suppose. There are always politics and squabbles and scandals, the unpleasant moths that hover around the Olympic flame. People tend to remember the doping and the withdrawals rather than the photo finishes and the perfect landings on one good foot and one badly injured ankle.
The athletes are all amateurs, in the best sense of the word. They do what they do - train unimaginable hours, travel unthinkable distances - for the love of it. That's what makes it special. It's not just the ultimate stakes - best in the world - but a chance to see the world at its very best.
The opening ceremony begins Friday July 27 at 7:30 p.m. You know where I'll be!
North Oak Branch