Opening Ceremonies Time! Why I Love the Olympics

As you all no doubt know, the Olympics start up again tonight. I for one am very excited. I’ve always liked the Olympics. The first ones I can remember are the summer Olympics in 1984 in LA. My family had a VHS tape of the Olympic Highlights, and I watched it multiple times. It had the opening ceremonies, Carl Lewis, Mary Lou Retton–good times. I was totally hooked. (Here’s a sampling from the opening ceremonies–TRC just watched them with me, stunned to find out jetpacks had been invented that long ago, and that we still don’t have them in our daily lives. Come on, Science!)

What do I like about them so much? I think the biggest thing is that I have this crazy idea that they bring the world together somehow. That with everyone watching them, we have this sort of shared communal experience that everyone can relate to. So often the various cultural differences are focused on in the news or politics. In my experience, people have fundamental difference, yes. But we have many more fundamental similarities. We feel the same emotions, have the same basic goals from life.

And a whole lot of us are competitive. :-)

I like how our entire country can cheer for the same team. Much as I’m a Yankees fan or a BYU fan, I don’t really relish the amount of hate and vitriol that can pop up between Yankees/Red Sox or BYU/Utah fans. I’m more of a good-natured joshing sort of a fellow. Being mean-spirited about it, or really getting frothy at the mouth . . . that’s not my style. I enjoy sports much more when everyone can root for the same team.

I don’t particularly like how much the medal count has come to be emphasized so strongly. Does it really matter if the US wins fewer medals than another country? I like the individual competition–not the overall “My country is better than your country.” Because–really? We beat you in the relay, so we’re better than you as a country? How stupid is that?

I like the drama of the Olympics. To see how individuals overcome trials to emerge victorious. NBC has done a very good job with presenting that drama over the years. Sure, sometimes they ham it up a bit too much–and other times, they refuse to show the actual sports in favor of showing more and more drama. But now I can watch all the sports on my iPad whenever I want, so I’m willing to put up with NBC going over the top now and then.

For the summer Olympics, I really like track and field, swimming, and gymnastics. Probably because these are the sports that have been shown the most over the years. I’m going to try my best to watch some of the lesser-viewed sports this time. Judo? Fencing? Taekwondo? Table Tennis? Yes, please.

How about you–are you excited? Why or why not? Favorite sports? Please share!

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