My Country, ’tis of thee…

The Olympics, the Summer Olympics to be exact. I absolutely love watching the Summer Olympics and there are countless reasons why it is a favorite of mine.

The rush of pride and patriotism that the games give me in my country and my country’s athletes is a simple and beautiful thing. In a society where it is becoming increasingly acceptable and even preferred to avoid eye contact on the street, shy away from small talk in the store and just be less friendly in general – these games incite a unity in the purest and most perfect way. I watch the American athletes and feel a bond to them that can only be justified by the fact that we both live on American soil, yet that seems to be enough for me to feel connected to them. To route for them. And to find myself overcome with emotion when they out perform their competition to earn their medal and their place on the podium. We’ve never met, yet I feel a kinship with them that causes me to become emotionally invested in their success. I often find my eyes well with tears watching their reactions upon realizing they’ve just won. How sweet their victories are!

Women’s gymnastics and the track and field events are my favorite. Closely followed by swimming, it’d be un-American not to like Michael Phelps.

I watch the events and marvel in the amazing ability and athleticism of these individuals who have dedicated countless hours, months and years to training and perfecting their craft. As a complete perfectionist myself, I have a deep respect and admiration for them. I am convinced that day in and day out, they are the first to show up and the last to leave their training facilities. I think of all the things they must sacrifice in order to be where they stand and I want so badly for them to win and be rewarded for those sacrifices. The foods they don’t allow themselves to eat, the Saturdays they don’t sleep in, the dates they don’t go on, the cocktails they don’t consume, the TV shows they don’t watch and who knows what else. That’s not to say they don’t enjoy life or that they live like nuns, I just try and appreciate all they most likely turn down in order to pursue their dreams and want them to feel the weight of that gold medal around their necks while they hear our, “Star Spangled Banner,” playing across the speakers marking their achievement.

Not only do they arouse pride and patriotism, but also a bit of nostalgia. The Summer Olympics always take me back to 1996 and “The Magnificent Seven.”

photo of “The Magnificent Seven”

I was so obsessed with these girls and thought they were the greatest. Kids these days go nuts over Justin Bieber or Miley Cyrus, but I went nuts for these girls and wanted nothing more than to be part of their team! I remember watching these games and seeing Kerri Strug hobble on that ankle with tears welling in her eyes like it was yesterday… and that’s a haunting reminder that I am getting very old, because that’s something old people say…

And let’s not forget the how incredibly motivating these events are! I am by no means a professional runner, but watching the women’s marathon event I was all but lacing up my shoes before the race was over! Had it not been for the 100 degree weather, I would have been out the door. But it was a sauna outside so let’s not get crazy here. Nevermind the fact that the marathon gold medalist had almost the same time as my HALF marathon time! Seems I definitely have some improvements to strive for…

It may only come around every 4 years and be aired on a ridiculous time delay, but the Summer Olympics is definitely a favorite of mine and is well worth avoiding social networking sites and online news sites to avoid spoiler alerts. Go team USA!