To use the words of this year’s Maestro of the Opening Ceremonies Danny Broyle, “I’m a mad fan of the Olympics.” To the best of my recollection this love affair started when I was a young boy, probably in 1972. If I remember it correctly I had the chicken pox or some other summer plague that year and I spent a whole bunch of time in my bedroom in the dark with a black and white Zenith TV on a rolling cart. I passed that time with what was then somewhat limited coverage and the voice of Jim McKay. That Olympics was remembered by most for the terrorist attack on the Israeli athletes but for me it will always be the memories of fantasizing and dreaming about what it would be like to either participate or attend an Olympics as I toiled in a dream like fever. It set an indelible mark. My passion for the Olympics continued through my youth, crescendoed in 1980 when the Men’s USA hockey team beat USSR in what I still think is the greatest sports moment of my lifetime and it has always been an integral part of my life as things have changed the Olympics have remained a constant.
What was a truly amateur sporting event in my early years has become a worldwide marketing event for pro athletes in my adult years. I have watched competition through time with my best friends, my parents, my ex-wife and I am oh so happy that my new fiancee shares the same love for this wonderful spectacle of sports in my present days. I remember when we first came together and the Summer games of 2008 in Beijing inspired me to buy a new flat screen TV and we watched in awe at what is sure to be the most memorable opening ceremonies of all time.
Four years later the Olympics in London provide another measuring stick and milepost in my life. I now sit in what is very much “our home” and look forward to the future and still dream. Not so much about participating in the Olympics but rather I still wonder if I will be lucky enough to attend someday as a spectator or in some other role. Frankly I have no doubt that it will happen. Maybe in Sochi in 2014? Maybe in Rio de Janeiro in 2016? I’m still wondering what would have happened if it had been Chicago that year instead? I suspect it would have been general chaos, but part of me is sad because with the connections my job provides me it could have been epic. I trust that my childhood fantasy of being there will be satisfied at some point though so I am content and I enjoy living in the moment with my own situation and that of the amazing athletes from around the world. Some that have had to face gender testing challenges. Some that were born with no legs and had to fight to prove that it wasn’t an advantage! Some that were the first ever from their nation in a particular event. Some that could never have dreamed of being the first ever female athlete from a nation that would not have permitted it even four years ago.
You see to me the Olympics still do exactly what they intended to do even with all the big dollars, with all the media hype and with all the overly dramatized stories of the individuals participating . They bring together people from all over the world in a setting of peace. They make you get lost in fantasy of what if for a short period of time. They celebrate the value of hard work and the unlimited potential of the human spirit.
For those of you who prefer to be haters and say the Olympics are not what they used to be I say this…Nothing is what it used to be!
Things are either better or worse depending on your perception of the situation but a value judgement only needs to be placed if you require it. For me I’d rather accept the changes, poke playful fun at the media blitz that it has become when appropriate, but mostly still revel in the joy of what the Olympic spirit still truly embodies:
Citius, Altius, Fortius!
Higher, Faster, Stronger. Not just a credo for the athletes, but rather a model of values that we could all stand to measure ourselves by both in our physical efforts, our mental fortitude and our efforts to rise to new spiritual heights.
Okay off my soapbox now. I move on and enjoy tonight’s broadcast and prepare my next post which I promise to be way more satirical and sarcastic. I’m currently preparing my list of the ten most ridiculous comments made by the talking heads during the Opening Ceremonies. Stay tuned. Should be a hoot…
To the tune of the Olympic theme:
“Dah, Daah, Dah, Dah, Dah Dah, Dah, Dah, Dah, Du, Du, Dah, De, De, Dah, Dah, Dah, De, Duh, Duh, Daah, Daah, Dah. Dah, Dah, Dah, Dah, De, Dah, De, Dah, Du, Du, Dah, De, De, Dah, Du, Du, De, De, De. Deh, Daaaaahhhh….”