color: SOME SOLDIER'S MOM: The Olympics and National Pride

Sunday, February 26, 2006

The Olympics and National Pride

So the XX Olympiad closed this evening. I have to admit, I'm a bit of an Olympic junkie. Every time the Olympics are on (winter or summer games) I swear that I'm not going to watch them this time, but I am always compelled to watch at least the Opening Ceremonies and then I'm hooked. Dear Husband and I actually sought out and watched Curling this year for heaven's sake!
Growing up I dreamed of being in the Olympics, but back in the Dark Ages just about every kid I knew thought that being the best amateur athlete in the world was something to truly aspire.
I think the Olympics have lost the true meaning with all the professional athletes competing. The Olympics are supposed to be a celebration of sports. And I know that they allowed the pros in to level the field because of the countries that subsidize their "amateur" athletes. But now that this has been the case for a number of Olympics, I am of the opinion that it has not improved the Games. It has become about only the athlete's personal achievement and the next or newest endorsement deals and hype and commercials and the commercial value of the individuals. It's not about doing the best for the USA because you are competing for the USA. I suppose that's just the times we live in. I'd like to see it get back to being more of a show case of sport's "young 'uns" and young guns -- real amateurs. Maybe we could restore some of the spirit if we required some percentage of a team's athletes to be truly amateurs? And I think the only way to deal with performance enhancing drugs and blood loading, etc., is if an athlete tests positive, ban the athlete from the Olympics for life and perhaps other competitions for 5 years -- effectively the athlete's best years; who can continue to train at competition levels for that length of time and not compete? If the penalties are severe enough, it will serve as a deterent. And, yes, I agree that testing methods must be improved to reduce the number of false positives.

Like most reviewers, I found the coverage of the Olympics to be lackluster and uninspiring. Then again, perhaps it was because most of the athletes were lackluster and uninspiring -- either their personalities or their competitions or both. I saw a comedian at some point over the past two weeks who said just once he wanted to hear a story about an athlete that wasn't a tear jerker or hard luck story about how the parents sold their home and live in different countries so their child could get to the games. He suggested that maybe it would be a breath of fresh air to hear that some guy had been born rich, had every advantage, private coaches and was just at the Games to get girls! LOL
I really like Apolo Ohno; he's a no excuses kind of guy. When he loses a race because he didn't skate well, he says, "I didn't skate a very good race." or "I didn't skate a very smart race." No whining. Sasha Cohen (who is a Soldiers Angel and has adopted soldiers!) said, "I tried my best. I didn't skate as well as I wanted and I made mistakes. I am grateful for the Silver Medal." And I like Shaun White and Toby Dawson. They participated and won with enthusiasm and charm. These competitors and a few others seemed to not just enjoy their achievements, but seemed genuinely taken with the Olympic experience. They each said how proud they were to be representing their country and meant it!
But the Games are over and the most striking thing to me about "Team USA" was its lack of cohesiveness and pride. I didn't see one athlete on the medal stand cover their heart when the US flag was raised, although I have been told that one or two athletes did; I just didn't see them do it. I didn't see even one sing along or even mouth the words to our national anthem. That was so appalling and embarrassing to me especially when compared to the Italians and a few other countries that sang with gusto whenever their anthem was played.
I don't care what your politics are. If you want to compete with that "USA" on your uniform, I think singing the anthem and putting your hand over your heart to salute your flag ought to be the bare minimum you can do and the US Olympic Committee ought to make the athletes sign a pledge to do so. I have given money to the US Olympic effort for years, but I don't intend to give any more unless they make me believe that "our" athletes will show some respect for our flag and the country that makes it possible ($$$) for them to compete in our name!!
And my thanks and apologies to those who have inquired about my lack of posting. We're fine, but have been busy with personal and time consuming family matters recently. If things settle down a bit, I'll be back to posting regularly very soon.
Copyright 2006. All rights reserved.


At 2/27/2006 7:31 AM , Blogger kbug said...

I agree with you that the Olympics should be for amateurs. Thank goodness for people like Apolo Ohno and Shawn White and all those who genuinely loved being there and competing for the sheer thrill of it. I loved watching them. By the way, Ohno did put his hand over his heart and sing along with the national anthem when he received his gold for the 500. After all the hooplah made about the personal feud between the two skaters, Shani Davis and Chad Hedrick, it was heart-warming to see Joey Cheek win some races...a truly down-to-earth guy who gave away his winnings to help children find hope through sports. There's a real American for you. You can bet the news people were kicking themselves for not doing a profile of him before the games, they had to settle for an interview after the win. Too much is made out of the big names in sports, and not enough is said about the little guys who are not expected to win anything, but have a heart of gold. That's what made the miracle at Lake Placid so special, they were all nobodies before they won the gold in ice hockey. To me, that's what the Olympics is all about.

At 2/27/2006 8:22 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ditto about Joey Cheek- he gave up a total of $35,00.00 to the charity and- he's about to start college and could have used the money, himself, I'm sure! That is an unselfish young man. I hope he is offered multiple scholarships!

At 2/27/2006 10:40 AM , Blogger THIRDWAVEDAVE said...

Mom, sadly, I doubt if they knew the words.

At 2/27/2006 1:23 PM , Blogger Quilting Goddess said...

I agree with you 110%. Funny thing is I was thinking the same thing with regards to national anthems .... I won't go into details here, but vist my blog and read the post 'Nice Surprise' It is about an event I went to were both the Americian & Canadian anthems were played and the reaction to them. I'm glad to hear you and the family are doing good.


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