Thoughts on the Olympics

(Nick Schcolnik)– I’m always pleasantly surprised by the excitement that radiates from my friends around the time the Olympics start. “I’m planning on watching the Olympics non-stop for all seventeen days,” one friend proudly boasted a few days ago. “I just love sitting down and watching all the competition. It’s so exciting!” said another, which, since my experience with the Olympics is nearly entirely different, got me thinking. Sure, I like watching people compete and feel some national pride when the US does well, but, outside of that, I have very little innate interest in the actual games (Besides the Opening, and maybe Closing, Ceremony). Basically my life changes very little when the Olympics start, yet I know the Games elicit so much joy in so many who watch. So, what’s wrong with me, and why can’t I just be excited by these darned Olympics Games?! I just want to join in on the fun!

Which leads me to my point: no matter how hard I try, no matter how many Olympic games pass, I just can’t get myself to want to watch the Olympics. Yes, if I’m roaming the TV channels I’ll occasionally flip to see what’s going on (those swimming races can be epic, and the gymnasts are incredible), but I never find myself thinking, “Oh man, I’d just love to be watching the Olympics right now.”

So why do people watch the Olympics? No really, I’m curious. I’m hoping that if somebody can give me an answer that is more than just, “Well… Because it’s the Olympics,” (which is basically all I’ve heard so far) then I might understand it for the same reason. Maybe because I’m half Argentinean and don’t have any “favorite” American athletes competing in the Games I’m hesitant to allow myself to be pulled by the tide that is American nationalism; perhaps not knowing the rules of some sports (judo and fencing come to mind) is the real reason they don’t particularly grab my attention. Maybe it’s my fault and I just need to learn the rules, but I’m not totally sure it is: I think (or maybe I hope) that there may actually be something inherently enjoyably in watching judo in the Olympics simply because it’s the Olympics! And while I recognize that this contradicts the top of this paragraph, that is exactly the point: the Olympics offer the privilege of sitting back and watching the best athletes in the world compete.

So maybe that’s the crux of the Games: watching the best in the world. But I feel like there’s a bit more than that; I feel that I’m supposed to have a vested interest in one nation (could I be wrong?). Maybe it’s my non-American side, but I’m not always pulling for the Americans to win. Sometimes I want the country with only 10 athletes in the entire Olympics to win the gold and don’t mind if the US doesn’t win (my guess is that I’m not an anomaly). Does that make me un-American? I’m not sure, but it makes dedication to the Olympics hard just because there isn’t somebody or some country for which I am always rooting.

Maybe I’m just overthinking it. Maybe I just have to sit back and enjoy the Olympics for what I can take from them instead of trying to figure out what they mean. If nothing else, I can marvel and appreciate the pride that exuded from the British during their Opening Ceremony because, hey, maybe that’s what it’s all about.

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