I love the Olympics. I watch the trials, I cry at the commercials (the same ones, over and over again), I stay up late into the night watching first-round judo matches. I'm not really sure why I love them so much. I've played sports all my life and always been a competitive person, but I don't watch much beyond KU basketball games. I guess, for me, the Olympics has never been about winners and losers of games, it's about dedication and focus and the world coming together.
Is it completely free of politics? Of course not. But it can be an opportunity for a few wounds to heal as when a unified Korea marched marched into the Sydney Olympics. Is it free of commercialization? Not at all. But where else do you see dedicated athletes making $400 a month, not $4,000,000. Do athletes and countries cheat to win? Sometimes, but it is also an opportunity for greatness to be achieved even by those who come in last (see #6 here and prepare to cry). It's Jesse Owens winning in Nazi Germany and Saudi Arabia finally, begrudgingly allowing women to represent their country in London. As Baron Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the International Olympic Committee, said, "it is more important to take part than to win."
So tonight, I'll be watching the Opening Ceremonies. I have no doubt that it will be gaudy and over the top. That Londoners will be inconvenienced and some ridiculous dance routine will be mocked. And I'm sure that I'll be mostly consumed by my knitting (pssst...have you seen this knit Olympics?). But I wouldn't miss the chance to watch the dreams of athletes from 204 nations come true and to feel, just for a little while, that the world is a beautiful place.
(All photos courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)