I’ve been thinking about … the Olympics.
I’m not usually much of a sports fan. I’ll watch a Maryland basketball or a Ravens game with Joe from time to time but left to my own devices, I’d rather read a book. This is not true, however, when it comes to the Olympic Games.
I look forward to the opening ceremony like I might have a child performing in it. I can’t wait to learn the story the host country wants to tell, how many people are involved and how long it took them to get all of that motion to work together. The pyrotechnics are usually the icing on the proverbial cake for me. The narrator actually told us that we at home were seeing things by the magic of television that were not visible to the people in the audience. How’s that for a front row seat? This year there were five Korean children that served as the thread of the presentation from beginning to end. They were cute and well-rehearsed and had the most important theatrical quality of all: They were enjoying themselves.
The new team figure skating event was one of the early competitions and I think it is a good addition to the mix. In a sport that is very solitary, the competitors get a taste for what it is to depend on the performance of another person, or in this case a group of people, for winning or losing. Except for the “pairs” some of these competitors may never have had this experience before.
I also fell in love with the speed skating phenom Maame Biney from Ghana by way of Virginia and Maryland, only 18 years old. Her dad brought her to America when she was only 5 and was in the stands holding a sign that said, “Kick some Hiney, Biney.” He stood there with tears rolling down his face, clearly having a hard time believing his own eyes. I love those moments.
I spent a good deal of time watching the snowboarding. I’m not positive, but I think it all started with skateboards in California. It wasn’t even considered a sport, just some crazy thing teenage boys did to the annoyance of their neighbors and the local police. The skateboards soon morphed into snowboards and both have gained legitimacy and popularity. Now look at it. The men’s snowboard competition came first on a course that can only be described as suicidal. I know I have never seen anything like it. The run consisted of a series of inverted ski jumps. When the competitor reached the top he did a series of twists, turns and somersaults. Interestingly, there was a huge, bright red upside down “U” in the snow near the top of the run. Don’t know what it was there for, maybe decoration. One of the guys jumped over it, it was not one of the elements. The crowd went wild.
Then there was the luge competition. Like skating, it is a sport where it is only you, your equipment and your skill. As we were watching, Joe said, “Where do they practice?” Obviously, there is not a practice run in every town. With his words still hanging in the air, came the answer. This particular competitor’s dad built one for him in their backyard. Which leads me to my final thought.
These Olympic competitors are unlike any others. And even though I want America to do well, when I see a spectacular performance by anyone’s countryman or woman, I cheer. Each victory is a win for the human spirit, achievement, skill, devotion and dedication. I can’t help but to see these athletes as children and grandchildren of the gods of the mountain, Olympus.