August 8, 2008

Love of Sport

I love the Olympics. I neglect my love for long stretches of time, but every time the games roll back around I fall in love again. I love the whole world watching one thing. I love that all these sports are getting their chance. Track and field, gymnastics, swimming all become important for two weeks. I will not rest till fencing gets it due. I love seeing what the athletes can do. Do you realize how high the high jump is these days? That marathoners run at a faster pace for 26 miles than I can keep up for one lap around the track? How narrow that high beam is? Or that female weightlifters can now lift twice their own body weight over their head? I love that ping-pong and badminton, played at this level, stop being games and become superhuman feats of reflexes and skill. I love watching the medal count, to see if China can catch the US and Russia at the grand game of being good in everything. I love the Countries who have one shot with one athlete in one event or its nothing. I love Countries that are so poor and war torn and generally messed up, that even getting a team to the Games is a triumph. I love that world is growing so small that one of the lost boys of Sudan is going to carry the American flag in the opening ceremony. Or that the Russian basketball team is going to field an African-American émigré. That's right, a black Russian. I love it when the American scores the huge upset. I love it when the Americans completely dominate. Softball is going to going to get kicked out of the games in 2012, the US is so dominant. I love American getting upset by some Country you couldn't find on a map, its so small. I love nationalism that doesn't come from war, or racism, or fear, but a nationalism that's just about "Run you magnificent bastard! Faster! He's catching Up!"

I don't love it all. There's the drugs. The judging. NBC trying too hard. Tape delays. The fact that China has the games this year. That the Olympic truce is not going to hold in way too many places. Heartbreaking injuries. The interpretive dance portions of the opening and closing ceremonies. We need as a nation a better chant than "U-S-A, U-S-A" The Australians have "Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oy, Oy, Oy" which is so much better.

But trying to hate this stuff never works. Because in the end, I love the Olympics. They get me every time.

1 comment:

Laura said...

Me too. I hate sports and watching them on tv is some kind of archane torture, usually. But the Olympics are different. I even watched a portion of the air rifle event last night. I try to be cynical and anti-American, but when the flag hangs over the medals platform and you see this tremendously talented person who has pursued this goal their whole chokes me up.

And since I have more than a small crush on Micheal Phelps, I'll be glued to the tv at least until the men's swimming is finished, but then there's gymnastics, too...oh and beach volleyball...see? It just sucks you in and you can't be cynical no matter how practice you are at it.