As most of my friends and colleagues have been doing, Cheryl and I have been watching the Olympic Games this week and of course cheering for Team USA. The athletes never cease to amaze us, even more so after we learn about their personal histories and backgrounds. Their commitment to train and readiness to make personal sacrifices for years borders on super-human. What’s equally fascinating is the post-event interviews, which reveal genuinely modest individuals even after a record-setting performance. I noticed the same humility even in the players on the men’s basketball team, which strikes me as somewhat unusual considering their over-sized personalities.
Something comes over athletes and spectators alike during the Games. I guess it’s the so-called “Olympic Spirit,” an upbeat feeling of sportsmanship and unity. There’s more – it’s the deep-seated feeling of being proud to be an American. The pride of seeing the colors of our nation’s flag and the honor of wearing the red, white and blue.
I’ve also found it interesting that, over the course of the games, I have developed a keen interest in sports I don’t typically follow. For example, I was watching rowing last night and never switched over to the Red Sox game playing simultaneously on a different channel. (The Red Sox lost). See, baseball has been a favorite of mine for years, rowing hasn’t. Still, now, in this instance, rowing captured my undivided attention. This is not an isolated phenomenon either; this has consistently happened with each discipline of the Olympic Games that I’ve sat down to watch.
Watching the Olympics has brought on some “unwelcomed” feelings as well. All of the athletes have made me feel out of shape and reminded me that I need to spend some extra time at the gym. My wife, Cheryl, hasn’t faired much better either as I am sure she has grown tired of hearing the story of my fencing days in college.
At the end of the day, regardless of what sport we’re watching on the TV at home; regardless of the nudge some of us may get to take a more critical look in the mirror; what matters is simple. What matters is the fact that, since the beginning of the Games on July 27th, America has had the pleasure of witnessing grace, power and commitment to win.
Congratulations and well done to all of our athletes!