Sunday, August 17, 2008

Had enough of the Olympics?

Not hardly. It is refreshing to listen to the American swim team proclaim Michael Phelps as a hero and the all time great Olympian. Phelps in turn responded by proclaiming the help provided by his teammates. It may sound corny, but I think we need to hear that kind of "corn." How about Kobe Bryant talking about the chills he got when he donned the Team USA basketball uniform and openly talking about his patriotism. How about the greatest basketball players in the world showing up to watch history in the making at the swim venue. How about the Australian Ian Thorpe showing up to bear witness to Michael Phelps efforts.

What about Béla Károlyi's exuberance in watching the Americans achieve a historic Gold and Silver in Women's gymnastics? Were the two gymnasts good representatives for today's youth. They seem like excellent role models happy for one another and excited about the opportunity to participate. I thought the courage of Dara Torres was amazing, at age 41 and looking every inch a champion and almost bringing the American relay team back to victory. The Romanian woman who won the Women's Marathon was a courageous figure and age 39 to boot.

The Olympics are filled with much more than sport, but great human stories of courage and the capability to overcome obstacles. One story that did not get much play, and I have a feeling it was because of respect for the person was the American male swimmer who was diagnosed with testicular cancer a month before the games. He opted to participate and postpone treatment, and that would probably be OK. I am sure doctors told him it wasn't life threatening and his chances for recovery would be excellent. Maybe not, who knows what the young man was told. However, he had worked hard to be on the American swim team and wanted the opportunity. He had to live with the mental question of was he doing the right thing. He did not win a medal, but the fact that he stood up to his situation and prevailed makes him a hero.

Other countries have their own heroes, and their own stories with which to reassure the population that courage, fair play, and sportsmanship do exist in this world. We can go to a former enemy's country, we can observe their citizens acting much like citizens in other parts of the world and rejoice that perhaps all is not wrong in the world.

Had enough of the Olympics, I would say not!

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