For a few weeks every four years, sports fans can throw out their preconceived notions of what their favorite sport is, they can forget about their ignorance to the rules of certain events and can instead cheer for everyone and everything that has blanketed itself in the red, white and blue.
Most of the athletes in these Olympic Games don’t have million dollar contracts, nor do they have endorsement deals that allow them to buy 20,000 square foot homes along the beach. What they do have, that many professional athletes do not, is the pride to be a competitor, a belief that by working hard, they can stand upon the podium and declare to their country that what they represent far exceeds the zeros lined up on the back of a pay check.
Olympics are also a time for fevered fans to sit around their television and cheer enthusiastically for a sport and a team that, before the Olympics, they knew nothing about. Fans can, at least for a day, cheer the American Water Polo Team like they were the Red Sox, Patriots or Celtics. Yes, it is safe to say that there is a little bit of everything in this year’s summer games. This diversity not only makes us proud to be fans of sports, but on a wider spectrum, allows us to pump out our chests as Americans, as we watch our medal count rise above the rest.
However, what is most amazing about this year’s games isn’t how many times we hear our nation’s song played
From the double amputee South African who just recently finished second in his preliminary 400 meter sprint, to an American sprinter who, just five years after being shot in the leg, defied doctor’s predictions that he would never compete at the elite level again, the Olympics serve us all with an ultimate reminder of how athletics can fuel the desire to succeed like few things can.
And when the sun finally sets on this year’s games, the last message we may be able to take, is that beyond country, beyond politics or foreign conflicts, that sports, unlike anything else, allows us all to hold up a white flag for a few weeks in exchange for one filled with circles that we can all rally behind.