July 30, 2012
I have Olympic fever. I contract it every few years. I don’t know what it is, but when the Olympics are on, I can’t turn away. I get excited, I swell with patriotic pride and I awe at the athleticism on display.
The games determine who the best athletes in the world are. The very best of the very best and who doesn’t want to watch that?
This is how bad it is. I stayed up late to watch the opening ceremonies when they replayed them at 2 in the morning because I had to work Friday night. It is the first thing I think about when I wake up in the morning. “Hmmm, I wonder what sport is on right now.” I put off watching the new episode of “Breaking Bad” until I had watched the women’s gymnastics qualifying. And “Breaking Bad” is really, really good television. But the Summer Olympics were on and how often does that happen?
The almost around the clock TV coverage is perfect for me. I like being able to watch Olympics before work and when I get home from work, which is sometimes pretty late at night being on a journalist’s schedule.
The only time I watch some of these sports is every four years and these are the best athletes in those sport. So it makes it special that they only come around every so often. Sort of like the Kentucky Derby and Girl Scout Cookies. I like them because I can’t watch (or eat) them all the time. And I don’t want to be the one who didn’t see the great comeback, the perfect score or the split-second win that everyone talks about the next day.
My favorites are the swimming, gymnastics and running but I’ll watch sports I would never be interested in except when a gold medal is on the line. I’ve watched water polo, men’s volleyball, beach volleyball, kayaking, rowing, dressage and women’s weightlifting. Every other time of year, I have no interest in these sports, but when it is the Olympics, I will be totally fascinated by these sports.
I love the stories behind the athletes and watching the triumphs and disasters. The stories give you reasons to root for these athletes. You see how hard they have worked to get to the games and what they have overcome and you just want them to do their best. How do you not root for the Irish gymnast who was told he wouldn’t walk again who not only walked again but made it to the Olympics with the best of the best? Or the runner with no legs? Or the woman in table tennis with only one hand? There are underdogs and superstars. There are world records broken and stunning defeats and upsets. And they are all fun to watch.
I feel great pride in my country when our athletes win medals, especially gold medals. It is great to know the fastest swimmer in the pool is American or the best female skeet shooter comes from the states. I’m keeping an eye on the medal count and right now our athletes are in second but I’m sure they’ll rectify that as the games go on. And I’ll be right here on my couch rooting them on.