I’ve been accused of being many things in my time as a writer: Cynical, right-wing, offensive, depressing, provocative, and most of the time it’s true. However, once every two years I throw away all the doom and gloom for the sheer joy of watching humans try discover what it means to be human.
The Olympics have always been a favorite thing of mine, it’s probably my favorite season. Nothing at all beats watching people often who have completely mundane careers, giving every last ounce of strength they have to maximize their potential as human beings.
That’s what really gets me when it comes to the Olympics, the maximization of human potential. These athletes are exploring what their humanity is, by pushing their bodies and minds past any reasonable limit to achieve victory. It is a triumph of humanity to see all these athletes achieving what they have worked for, for years if not decades. It really gets me every time.
It seems these days to be trendy to loudly proclaim that one is not watching the Olympics, I honestly don’t understand it. Not wanting to watch the Superbowl, that makes a little more sense. I enjoy football, but not everybody does. Most NFL players get paid astronomical sums of money and seem to whine about the most ridiculous setbacks. No Olympian would complain about pay and go on strike. NFL players are in a career, trying to make as much money as possible. I can absolutely understand not liking the Superbowl, but it staggers me that people brag about being too good to watch the Olympics.
Even with these Summer Olympics, with all the controversy and bungling that has been reported in Rio, it’s hard to really lose the real Olympic spirit. Honestly, it’s more than a little funny to me to see just how badly things have been going in Rio, with the Australian team refusing to move into substandard housing, reversing their decision and subsequently getting a lot of their stuff stolen during a false fire alarm. With intense corruption and mismanagement of funds, it was looking like these Olympics were going to be a disaster.
There’s still plenty of problems involving fears of Zika, crime and the poor that were displaced to make room for the Olympic venues but it’s almost all forgotten, overshadowed by the pure competitive spirit that every athlete feels.
And of course, it’s not just the Olympics, but the Paralympics as well. While many Olympic athletes are incredibly lucky to be the right height or to have tremendous genetics that allows them to become the best, Paralympians quite obviously didn’t have good luck and have overcame more than their Olympic peers. Overcoming disability to compete on the world’s biggest stage is arguably more of a feat and one I cannot get enough of.
Whether the athletes come from powerhouses like the U.S., China or Russia, or an athlete from a smaller country to whom it is victory just to go to the Olympics, truly the best of humanity is on display for anybody to see, to be inspired by, or to just enjoy the spectacle.