It's kind of ironic since I hate to watch televised sports (except ice skating) at any time other than the Olympics. In fact, one of the reasons I married Hubby is because he watches no organized sporting activities on television. In college, I dated a guy who spent his entire weekend watching football and baseball games. He didn't come up for air until Monday morning. And while that was just one of the many issues in our doomed relationship, I swore I would never date another man who scheduled his meals and bathing times around halftime shows.
The Olympics are different from regular sporting activities. So many athletes from all over the world are gathered in one place to compete. Regardless of their backgrounds, the political issues at home or their religious beliefs, they compete in a spirited but peaceful way. Granted, some of them want to win because it means financial support for their family back home or that they won't be shamed into obscurity by their country's leadership. They come together for two weeks of digging deep to prove to themselves and others who is ultimately the strongest, fastest or fittest in their field and for the most part, it is done without any fighting. It gives me a bit of hope for world peace.
It also makes me think I can be an athlete. Today, when I was running at lunch, I felt like I could go farther and go faster than I normally do. When I see athletes train intensively for four years and push themselves beyond believable limits, through pain and injury, to win, it makes me think I can win, too. I forget I'm a middle aged woman with a weak ankle and poor mental stamina. They make me want to be better. They make be believe I can be better.
Most of all, I love the drama. You see, with normal sports coverage, it's generally about the act of the sport itself. With the Olympics, the networks spend months preparing background stories about the athletes, and when the games finally take place, we get to hear about the struggles they've had getting to this point. We hear about the financial issues and extreme sacrifices that the athletes' parents make in order for their kid to chase this dream. We learn about health scares and family tragedies. And the dream chasing plays out in front of us in the course of two and a half weeks. World champions fail to make the cut by hundredths of a point, past medal winners miss the podium by a few inches and injuries take their toll. But underdogs come from behind, dark horses surprise us and athletes from impoverished countries who train with practically nothing, including shoes, soar to the finish line. It's a wonderful soap opera that unfolds before our eyes, night after night. I love the athletes who compete, knowing they'll never win but giving it their all anyway. I adore the runners from third world countries who would never admit to eating better at the Olympic village than they've probably eaten in months or years. And I just love watching someone's dreams come true. I love the laughter. I love the tears. I jump up and down off the couch when Team USA wins, I hold my breath until the swimmers touch the wall and I cry with the mamas in the stands who can barely watch their grown children compete because the stress is just too much. It's the best reality TV ever.
Which brings me to this video. If you missed it last night, check it out. This is exactly how I would be if my child were competing at the Olympics. Watch for dad's reaction at the very end. It's priceless.
PS....news outlets, please STOP putting the results at the top of your homepages hours before I get to see the tape delayed events. You're spoiling the surprises and I'm already tired of running around with my fingers in my ears, singing la la la la or trying to quickly scroll to the bottom of the page before I inadvertently find out something I don't want to know yet.