This past week and a half, my world has revolved around the Olympic games. I’m not ashamed to admit that I plan my workday around beach volleyball and diving and synchronized swimming, or my nights around gymnastics finals and more beach volleyball.
Poor E has actually suggested we go out a few times in the evening, and I’ve looked at him like he’s crazy: Go to the movies? But Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh are playing tonight!
I’ll go as long as there’s a bar and a TV playing images of women flying through the air in questionably high-cut leotards and too much glitter on their eyelids.
I get like this every two years (thank goodness for the Winter Olympics—four years is seriously too long to wait). I can’t put my finger on exactly why I love the games so much, but in many ways, this year’s have reminded of our online writing community:
1. It’s a mile marker. Where were you when you watched the 1992 Barcelona games? The 2008 Beijing games? Because they only happen every four years, I remember each Olympics vividly; they seem to encapsulate certain eras in my life. Four years seems like a good amount of time to set a huge, life-defining goal and work towards it. Every Olympics we’re reminded of this by athletes who train tirelessly for four years only to have it pay off—or fall apart—in less than a second or with hundredths of a point. Win or lose, they inspire us to dream big, train one day at a time, and keep going even when reality brings heartbreaking disappointments.
2. It’s the stories that really get to me. Yes, I know pulling on our heartstrings is NBC’s intention, in which case I’m the easiest target ever. They understand the power of stories. They know, like all great writers know, that no one will care about a character’s journey if they don’t care about the character first. And while I have my favorite sports, I haven’t cheered louder than when I’ve cheered for an athlete who’s overcome some big struggle to win gold. I’ve gone from I couldn’t care less about the Men’s 400 m final to OMG Kirani James has to win this first gold EVER for Grenada because he has the biggest heart and he deserves this! in about three-hundredths of a second flat. Is there a medal for epic softie?
3. It’s the camaraderie that makes it all worthwhile. Yes, the athletes are competing against one another. Yes, some have been completely ungraceful when winning silver, of all things. But then you get a moment like this:
And all faith is restored in the world. That, my friends, is a beautiful heart and a pure love for the craft.