On the Olympics

I’m not a sports fan, to put it mildly, but I do have an appreciation for the discipline and dedication that comes with true athletic prowess.  And you have to admit that the basic idea of the Olympic Games is pretty inspiring.  The notion that, for a few weeks every couple of years, athletes from all over the world can come together as friends, while their countries lay aside their differences, is the stuff of great novels.  Just ignore the commercialism, the scandals, and the criticism, and the Olympic Village is really a Utopian society on a small, temporary scale.  With a few recreational drugs and prostitution thrown in for good measure.

My own personal preferences tend toward the Winter Olympics, perhaps because, as a native Texan, swimming, running, hiking, and shooting are ordinary, commonplace events here.  I love the drama (and the divas) of skating, and there’s no better way to spend a cold January night then snuggled up on the couch, watching skiers fly down the slopes of some steep mountain far away, bells ringing in the distance.  That’s the part I most enjoy, and that’s the Olympics of my dreams.

Frank Deford, a writer, sports commentator, and personal hero of mine (he sure calls it like he sees it!), has an interesting take on the Olympics here.  I recently read Deford’s book, Bliss, Remembered, which takes place during the Summer Olympics of 1936 and involves a romance between a young American swimmer and the son of a Nazi officer.  It’s a fine glimpse into the world behind those heavy curtains and offers drama and intrigue, too.

When I saw my doctor this week, he was really excited and asked if I had “Olympic Fever” (his exact words!).  My first thought was to respond, “Why yes, doctor, that’s why I’m here,” but I thought better of it and agreed that I do, a little.  We talked some about the gymnastics drama, and when he left the room, his young nurse eyed me suspiciously.

“Are you really a big fan of the Olympics?” she asked, “because it didn’t seem like you were that excited.”  I admitted that I could really take ’em or leave ’em, and she let out a big sigh and said she felt the same way.  That she didn’t understand the excitement, even when she was a child, and she wished, for the first time in her career, that the doctor would just go back to talking about football.  I told her that I thought it was okay not to like the Olympics, because not everyone is into sports.

But I really do like this commercial by Frost Bank.  Their ads always make me feel proud to be a Texan.  And swimmer Micah Lawrence, who has advanced to the finals in the 200-meter breaststroke (I had to look that up), is from my little town outside Austin, so that is very cool.  Big congratulations to her!

How about you: Are you watching the Games?  Could you take ’em or leave ’em?

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