I used to love the Olympics. Grew up watching them. Huge event, not just for the Olympians, but for our household. We would watch nightly, daily, and endlessly – all winter and all summer – every election year. It was intense and exhausting. It felt as if we were part of a ‘family olympics’. The goal of OUR games was to endure the grueling schedule of watching televised olympic events for an entire year.
Then they changed it to every other year.
It used to correspond with elections. There were Presidential Elections. There was hope. There was the Olympics. We were in tune with our country, and regardless of any allegiance to our country’s olympians, the olympics themselves seemed patriotic.
I couldn’t care less if the individual who wins is from our country or not. My patriotic allegiance is to skill, beauty, and talent. If this red, white, and blue-ism includes being elated over the stunning performance from someone born in another country, so be it. I will favor based on attitude, a winning smile, or just personal style. If the olympian meets the standard I alone set, then I root for them. I love when they stand on the podium with their country’s flag. Good for them! They met my criteria AND the judges. They should get to wear heels or something for that.
The skiing is visceral. These phenomenal athletes race down the slopes at highway speed, making turns on ice with just boards attached to their feet. I watched this past week as many women fell, audibly gasping as I internalized their plight. This is dangerous stuff, and these women were braver than almost any man you will meet. But they don’t think of themselves as such. When you are in it, you are thinking only of how you will win. Others falling ahead of you could inspire you to show your stuff, but you cannot be oblivious to what it means. Lyndsay Vonn was amazing, but so was the final skier who finished 2 seconds behind her. As she came down the announcer was saying, “She’s really gotta pick up the pace…” but all I could think was: ‘She’s doing it. She is going to finish.’ She skied cautiously, and finished, while Lyndsay skied aggressively and amazingly, and snagged the gold.
Recently the skating has been on, and this is great. The men skate and train all their lives to get to the olympics. What they don’t know is they only win by a nose. In the final analysis, in order to grab a medal, you must have a sizable proboscis.
In women’s skating, there was a 16 year old American by the name of Mirai Nagasu who skated brilliantly in the short program. Then she skated extremely well in the long program, but fell short of a medal. Talent, athleticism, and artistry are important, but don’t forget to make a deduction for age. Sure, Kim Yu-na was better. She was amazing. But Mirai Nagasu deserved the silver.
I am a proud American. I proudly announce Kim Yu-na deserved to win the Gold. Hooray for South Korea – – even though she felt the fatal pressure of shame for her country had she returned with a measly silver medal. Between Gold Medal or death, Kim Yu-na made a wise decision.
It isn’t my patriotic spirit that feels ripped off by Mirai Nagasu’s failure to win a medal. This is a yearning inside that says sports – especially at this level and on a World Stage – deserve better score-keeping management. If the judges don’t get their act together we will make a hole in the ice to stick their face, then require the skaters to do spins in this place.
I am a proud American. Bleeding red, with white blood cells, and singing the blues.