I can hardly contain my excitement: The London Olympics are just around the corner. I have been watching the Olympics—like most of you, I’m sure—for as long as I can remember. For me, the Olympics represent a part of what is right in the world, with people putting aside any differences for a month in order to enjoy a few sporting events. Ok, a lot of sporting events
Superficial reasons aside, I love watching each and every event, from the primetime ones like the track and swimming events right down to archery and ping pong. The athletes of these lesser-known—or less viewed—sports must find it painstakingly difficult to wait patiently for the Olympics to come around every four years. They have but one opportunity in that amount of time to showcase their talents, one opportunity to show the world what they can do, and have believing—even for just a day—that equestrian is a sport that matters.
What’s more, the Olympics provide an opportunity to watch some of the world’s greatest athletes take part in a tournament in which they receive no pay. The Lebron James’ and Usain Bolts of the world technically receive nothing but pride for representing their country (I say technically because there are surely sponsor deals to be won worth millions of dollars). The fact that these athletes are willing to put so much on the line simply in order to show a healthy dose of patriotism is inspiring.
This is why it is so upsetting to hear about Dwayne Wade saying that Olympians should be paid. Come on, man. I hear what you’re saying about the jersey sales; I hear what you’re saying about the possibility of getting injured; I get what you mean when you say its taxing on your body. But…come on, man. This is exactly what makes the Olympics so great. The notion of people putting all of that aside in order to achieve a common goal, simply for the sake of pride in their country and their people is what makes us watch.
Then there is the whole Michael Phelps saga from the Beijing Olypmics. The guy had just finished bringing his career medal count to a whopping 14. He had been training day in and day out to become the fastest guy in the pool for four years. He had done everything necessary to win short of steroids and gill implants. Then, when the Olympics were over, and everyone had seemingly forgotten about all the pain his body had likely been through, and all the sacrifices he must have made to win all of those events, he smoked a little weed. The world was back to that cruel, judgmental place, and we crucified him for it. Forgive me, but I think he should be allowed to do take a break and smoke a little ganja after something like that.
No Olympics are without its dramatic storylines. There will undoubtedly be cases of medals being revoked due to steroid use. There will most likely be other tales of cheating during such and such event and hints of racism on the part of some official from this country or that. The world will all be watching as this athlete or that publicly embarrasses themselves while giving a heartfelt apology for whatever he or she did wrong.
But none of that can take away from the sheer awesome-ness that the Olympics bring. And I, for one, cannot wait. Giddy-up.