I love the Olympic games. No, what I really mean is, I LOVE the Olympic games!
I have fond memories of watching the Olympics every four years–our entire family gathered around the television to see the opening ceremonies, watching track and field events, figuring out the rules of curling and hockey (we lived in Akron, not a big town for either of those sports at the time!), and cheering on Team USA. The summer before I turned eight (1984), the Olympics were in Los Angeles, and I remember the Olympic torch coming through Akron on its way to California. I recall the excitement that washed over the crowd as we lined Main Street, sitting on the sidewalk in front of the old O’Neil’s department store, and the rush of adrenaline as the torch made its way past us–a momentary brush with history.
Those memories return in a powerful way every time the Olympics are on–now every two years, which makes the waiting much less frustrating for Olympics junkies like me. For me, it’s not the sport, or even any one sport in particular. I’ve never been very athletic, and watching sports on TV has never excited me the way it does others. But every time the Olympics are on, I become a fanatic, learning the rules of sports that I normally wouldn’t go near. It’s not about the sports, but about the spectacle of the whole thing. Yes, it’s expensive, and yes, the cities that host the games often go into great debt in order to host, but with hosting comes the honor of being, if even for a brief moment over a two-week period, the home town for the world.
I’m particularly excited for this summer’s games, as London will take on the honor of hosting. The day that London was announced as the host of these games, I hung my British flag outside our home in Marshallville. And, it’s hanging again outside our home in Ada today, as it will for the duration of these London games. I’m so proud to be an American–in a way, my time living in England taught me that–but I’m also proud of my “adopted homeland” of Great Britain. Tonight, I will let the tears flow unashamedly as I watch the athletes from around the world gather in the Olympic stadium in London. And for one moment in time, I will feel proud to be a citizen of the whole world, along with millions of others who will feel the same.
In the end, that’s what the Olympics is about–feeling proud to be part of something bigger than oneself, proud to be part of the human race.