Thinking about the Olympics is one of the things guaranteed to make me cry every time. It’s kind of funny because of how much I hate sports, but also the Olympics is so much more than sports. There is pageantry, theater, and drama. People are being self-actualized all over the damn place and everyone is sharing in this experience that makes us all remember the the world is the biggest small place in the universe. There is a universal language shared between the parents of Olympians who watched their children pick up a skill and master it, and who now get to watch them compete for international recognition and praise.
The other thing for me is that the athletes aren’t all untouchable pros that make millions every year. A lot of them are people from your hometown. You have mutual friends with them on Facebook and when they come home there are signs on doors welcoming them back. 31 of the 242 American Olympians are from Colorado, which is the most of all the states. It’s not surprising because of how winter-sport heavy Colorado is but that just makes the winter Olympics even more meaningful for me. Nicole Hensley is the goalie for the women’s ice hockey team. She’s 24, she grew up in Lakewood. She’s the best goalie in America and we have two mutual friends. I don’t get that experience when I watch NHL.
My other favorite part is seeing athletes from smaller countries. I like when Americans win medals but also we all know that American athletes have broad resources at their disposal to train and prepare, as well as athletes from other wealthy and developed countries. I’m always going to think of Eric Moussambani Malonga, the swimmer from Equatorial Guinea in the 2000 Summer Olympics, who had practiced in a lake and a 12m hotel pool. Yes, he was the slowest swimmer by a pretty large margin but he still made it to the Olympics and he did his best. I know that the media needs to focus their attentions on their home countries but I think those kind of stories add context and depth to the competition. It’s not about who wins medals, it’s about who is there and how they got there.
I’m trying to figure out how to make my tv play more things than just PBS. I know I pay for tv with comcast but I don’t know how to set it up and the internet won’t tell me so if you know the secret hmu. Until then I’m watching all the bootleg clips.