Posted by: thehungryrunner | August 11, 2008

I heart the Olympics, cheesy commentary and all!

It’s funny, the meandering mindsets a person can find themselves going through.  I’ve often made lamentations that have been expressed by others ad nauseum:  that the Olympics have become overtly commercialized, that the coverage is pitiful and focuses only on neatly edited excerpts of only the “big ticket” sports so as to command the greatest advertising revenue, that the commentary is brain-splittingly bad — seemingly “dumbed up” for the sake of mass appeal, that the “up close and personal” stories over-contrived and melodramatized…..and so on.  And of course, there’s the awareness of the world’s politics and other issues, which inevitably become part of the Olympic story, particularly surrounding the host nation.  And to a point, I’ve approached this year’s Olympics with my usual leariness of of all of these things.

But maybe I’m just burned out on nitpicking, but try as I may, I can’t seem to dampen my excitement about this year’s Olympics.  I’ve always been an ardent fan of the Olympics, ever since I was a kid and eagerly watching Nadia make gymnastic history.  Maybe I just don’t want the not-so-good parts to drown out the good parts, to throw the baby out with the bathwater, if you will.

Wow, and speaking of water, this year, I can’t seem to get enough of Michael Phelps and Dara Torres, though I’m finding myself caught up with many other lesser-known athletes’ quests for glory as well.  Watching them makes me want to stretch myself all the further, not only in terms of achieving my best, but also in maintaining good showmanship and connection to my fellow humans.  That’s the kind of balance — hard work, discipline, a drive to succeed AND yet a sense of good cheer, gratitude and grace — I admire and yet seems so rare.

I think it boils down to…..I love using the Olympics as an opportunity to be inspired, to suspend my cynicism and quotidian attitudes and just focus on the simplicity of a bunch of well-trained, hard-working athletes giving it their all.  I know the pure happiness I myself feel when I throw myself wholeheartedly into a pursuit, be it great or small, and watching that same fire in the athletes reminds me of the need to keep that enthusiasm and passion at the heart of my existence.  I find, too, that so much of athletics and sports is a representative of life:  you have extreme ups and devastating lows, you have to find it in yourself to dig deep and stay the course no matter what your odds or how bleak things are looking, for you never know what will happen.  More over, even if the “worst” happens, you’ll walk away with the satisfaction of knowing you gave it your best shot.

I think life presents us with many opportunities to capture that above dynamic, if we’re only willing to stop, watch, learn and remember this!

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