After enormous buildup and anticipation, the London Summer Olympics officially opened up last night with the Opening Ceremony. I skipped out on my beloved Missoula Osprey to sit at the house and watch the tape delayed proceedings. Although London’s version of the Opening Ceremony could not hold a candle to the spectacle that Beijing pulled off in 2008, I still got that humbling sense of world unity that has invaded my soul since the first time I actually remember watching the Olympics sixteen years ago during the 1996 Atlanta games.
I am a big Olympics fan, especially the summer ones. For seventeen days, the world is captivated on London. The best of the best from every corner of the planet is meeting in a common place to compete for national glory. It does not get much better than that.
Besides the competition itself, so many other things about the games appeal to me. I can’t help but appreciate the rich expression of culture that engulfs the games. I feel all geography and social studies classes in our schools (if school was actually in session) should stop the traditional lessons and turn on the games during classes. The amount that can be learned from observing where the athletes are from and how they conduct themselves is immense. I also enjoy the athletes who rise to the top over the 2+ weeks and make a name for themselves. The Olympics routinely creates new heroes and they are usually always wide-eyed, humble, and young. Yes, whenever the Olympics come around, the number of positive sports role models skyrockets. Additionally, I just marvel at how the whole world seemingly shuts down in the name of competition and good spirit. There is no escaping that the Olympics are going on. Every restaurant, store, bar, waiting room, etc. will be tuned in. It will be all what people talk about. Political candidates, pastors, and professors will all make a point to reference something from the Olympics during their speeches, sermons, and lectures. The Olympics definitely unites, and that is beyond cool.
Besides the cultural, hero-building, and uniting aspects that the Olympics always deliver, I revere them so much because they seem to really define time. Throughout the past sixteen years, I can look back at each summer and winter edition of the games and pinpoint exactly what was going on in my life. You could just yell at me something like “Nagano 1998”, “Athens 2004”, or “Vancouver 2010” and I could rattle off to you the exact state of my life during those two weeks when the games took place. I could immediately tell you what activity I was most engrossed in at the time, where I was living, what television I watched most of the games from, who I was hanging out with, who I was dating, what job I had, what song was popular, what my goals were at the time, what I was thinking about mostly in my head, etc. It is kind of funny that an event like this can really time capsule so many memories that have absolutely nothing to do with the games themselves.
By now you can see that I love the Olympics. But what makes me like them even more in 2012 as opposed to two years ago in Vancouver?! It is the SUMMER games of course!! While I love the Winter Olympics to a great degree, nothing beats the summer games. The Summer Olympics are the traditional, history-laden games. They are much more inclusive of the whole world, both in athlete participation and from fan connectivity. When you think Olympics, you think universal type sports such as swimming, track and field, and weightlifting. The Summer games just produce more imagery too. Without equipment and helmets covering the faces of pretty much every athlete and with the absence of snow everywhere, your brain just registers more with the sights and sounds of the summer games. Athletes are much more likely to garner a name for themselves during the summer games as opposed to the winter games simply because of direct exposure. And who am I kidding? I am just a summer guy in general. I want to see rays of sun rather than mounds of snow. I much rather see athletes competing (especially the women athletes) in uniforms that showcase the awesome physique that many of the competitors have rather than seeing them all bundled up in ten different layers. Yes, the Summer Olympics is where it is at!
I am very excited for the next seventeen days. I plan to publish a couple more posts that are directly related to the games. I hope all of you enjoy this special world event as well. Let the games begin!! Don’t Blink.