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Why I Watch The Olympics

I wrote this in August a couple days after the Beijing Games, and I think it accurately, if not totally, explains why the Olympics have such a hold on me…

Even though Olympic athletes these days have multimillion dollar endorsements, get paid up to six figures for gold medals, and have a myriad of drug problems, there is still something pure about watching an olympic event. To me, the Olympics aren’t about watching the original dream team run over some poor team from Africa who had never heard of a zone defense, it’s about the unheralded athlete who once every 4 years is a household name. At the risk of sounding too much like Rick Reilly or too sappy of a person, I compiled a list of all the reasons why I watch and love the olympics, starting with the Opening ceremony on August 8th, and concluding with the closing ceremony. So without further ado, I watch the Olympics…

…to see every country walk into the Olympic stadium with pride and wonder on their faces, even if they are represented by less than 10 athletes.

…to watch the greatest athlete in the world, Michael Phelps, utterly dominate his sport.

…to hear Alain Bernard, former world recordholder in the 4X100 meter freestyle say “The Americans? We are going to smash them. That’s what we came here for.”

…to see Jason Lezak chase down Bernard and nip him at the wall to give the US an unexpected gold.

…to see the US Men’s indoor volleyball team, after hearing about the death of their coach’s father in law, go out and win the gold medal.

…to watch the mens gymnastics team, totally counted out, win a bronze and celebrate more than China and Japan, who won gold and silver.

…two words: Usain Bolt.

…to see Bolt win as many golds (3) in the span of a week as the entire nation had won from 1980-2008

…to see the US Baseball team rebound from a dissapointing loss to Cuba to defeat Japan in the bronze medal game, without using our best players, or even our best minor league ones.

…to see the only women’s basketball I watch in the quadrennium: the US Women, perhaps the real dream team.

…to watch sports I would never watch otherwise, either for lack of opportunity or will, such as diving, water polo, field hockey, and handball.

…to see which female Olympian becomes the darling of the country. This year there seemingly was a three way tie between Nastia Liukin, Shawn Johnson and Alicia Sacramone.

…to see the title of “World’s Greatest Athlete” return to within our borders.

…to think about how amazing our Olympics performance every four years is, especially when you consider that a lot of the top American athletes play football, basketball and baseball, and our so-called “second tier” athletes play sports such as volleyball and water polo.

…speaking of which, the US is now the world’s best volleyball and water polo nation, with every team getting to the gold medal game, and winning 3 of them.

…watching the gold medal basketball game, which started at 2 in the morning, and getting my money’s worth, with the US winning a great game.

…seeing how much winning the gold medal meant to Kobe Bryant, NBA MVP and three time champion, who called this more important than anything else.

…to see the team place their gold medals around Coach K and Jerry Colangelo’s necks.

…watching Lauryn Williams run back and pick up the baton after dropping it in the 4X100 relay, and proceeding to finish the race.

…last but not least, the saddest event of all: the closing ceremonies.

Even with all the controversy in China ( the age of the gymnasts, the smog and pollution, the repression of free speech, and the detaining of two elderly women to a work camp), this Olympics was a great show filled with awesome moments, and it left me pumped for Vancouver in 2010, London in 2012, and beyond. Good job, Olympics.

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Categories: Summer
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  1. July 29, 2009 at 3:31 am

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