We broke down and got cable over the weekend, to watch the Olympics. It got me thinking about the lengths we go to watch and the joy we get from the games themselves. There is something magical about the smile of a 17-year-old girl in pearl earrings who just swam faster than any other woman in the world. It’s the same magic as young adults beating their heroes and of parents in the stands with so much pride it seems to be seeping out their pores.
There is magic, too, in seeing a world focused on sports that usually ignore. We rekindle a love for gymnastics or diving or swimming and remember fleeting moments in our past, whether our own attempts at glory or Olympics of the past. I will never watch a woman vault without remembering Kerri Strug and her amazing second vault (I know, we would have won without it, but it was still magical.)
Most Olympians will never be Michael Phelps. They will never earn a medal, let alone a fortune. They compete because they love their sport. And there is something to be learned from them and their stories, even if NBC has the obnoxious tendency of exploiting them*. They have trained so hard and given so much just to be there.
I love watching the camaraderie between athletes, both teammates and rivals, who appreciate each others talents and cheer others on to excellence. I love knowing that for two weeks, all around the world, there are people who are watching, cheering and caring.
I love seeing my children discover these things for themselves. They find new heroes and new sports to try. I love that watching makes them “Olympic dreamers” as Lexi aptly described. It is good for a child to be a dreamer and to recognize talent and hard work. I don’t want my children to grow up to be Olympians, but I hope they grow up to do their very best. I hope that Missy Freeman and company inspire them to do that, like FloJo and Jackie Joyner-Kersee once did for me.
* It is crazy how bad NBC is getting. Can we get Google or the BBC or something instead? I am so tired of them using the tape delay to build drama in editing. It is out of control. I don’t think we can last through 2020 with them. Also, Bob Costas is looking really scary. The plastic surgery and botox is not a good look for him.