Friday, August 13, 2004

Let the games begin

I'm a huge, huge Olympics junkie. I cannot begin to tell you the extent of my junkiness but let's put it this way -- you cannot tempt me away from gymnastics/swimming/diving with the usually lethal combination of margaritas and pizza. Why, you ask, do I care so much about these hugely expensive endeavors that come around ever two to four years (depending on whether you're including Winter Games in the count)? It's quite simple.

I always love the staging,the bravado, the sense of history and spirit that infuses these Games. I love the idea that these people have trained so hard, have sacrificed so much, all for this moment. I love that they go there, and they forget all of the artificial boundaries we construct -- political, national, religious, racial, sexuality, gender -- to come together on a playing field. I love the stories, the humanity of what we see for sixteen days. It's not always about winning, but the journey that brings the athlete to this particular moment in time.

And I admit, watching the Opening Ceremonies, I did get a little choked up watching the American team come into the arena. More universal, it's impossible to miss the joy on the athletes' faces and not share in their excitement, the desire to represent one's country. Or how about the Afghani team which is sending a woman to these Games? Or the Iraqi team, welcomed back into the Olympic fold, and upsetting Portugal in a first-round soccer match? It's the human spirit at its finest, the story of individuals that make up nations, a way for us, the world population, to get to our neighbors a little better. More importantly, it's the physical manifestation of pride and love for what one does and for one's country. It's hard not to find some resonance of some kind for every person in these Games, this pagentry of the human spirit.

Olympics link of the day: At the Games, it's a woman's world.

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