Monday, February 15, 2010

Are You Watching the Olympics

Olympics 2000 in Sydney, Australia

“I thought it was too far for me, but I made it.” Swimmer Eric Moussambani, 22, was one of the two strong swimmers on the Equatorial Guinea Olympic team. He recorded the slowest competitive time ever for the 100 meter freestyle after finishing his heat more than one minute outside the world record. He swam the heat alone after the only other two competitors swimming the heat were disqualified for jumping the starter’s gun. At the finish, Moussambani, who had only begun swimming that January, received a rapturous reception from the 17,500 capacity crowd. We sat at home cheering as well.

Are you watching the Olympics?

Sometimes I wonder, just who are the real champion? Are they the ones with tears in their eyes and medals around their necks? Are they those who made the journey and will survive defeat? Perhaps they are the families who sacrificed financially, emotionally and, in some countries, actually gave up their precious children to a sport. Maybe they are the coaches who give up their lives to teach, train, win or lose with each athlete. Or are they the nations who host the event, whose pockets bulge and who acquire temporary fame?

I tend to champion those who originally believed in a concept that has brought nations together to not only compete but to also observe and interact. Those whose dream has survived war, boycott and even terrorists. A place where color becomes invisible and differences exciting. Losers hug winners. Winners hug losers. White hands clasp hands of color, warring nations share the podium often embracing one another for a brief moment, putting aside differences. Even the commercials reflect hope, a balance of all nations, unity of people.

Could it be that we cheer on the other nations because we see them as individuals who sweat, who cry, who hurt, who are not so different from us? Do we maybe see past guns, hatred, war and prejudice to find our own reflection in others?

Maybe when they say, “Let the games begin”, in truth we should say, “Let the understanding begin.”

Are you watching the Olympics? You don’t have to be tapped into sports to enjoy it, but you might just tap into humanity.

Let the understanding begin.

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