Millions of us tune in at every chance we get to catch the next event and to follow our teams, be amazed, and to keep track of medal counts. Never before has it been this is easy to stay connected with the Olympics 24/7. From extensive tv coverage to online statistics and videos, we can tune in at any moment. And thanks to Social Media, we can tweet with our favorite athletes and even get spoiler alerts of results before they are aired. We are feeding off the energy and excitement at any moment. We cheer on our favorites, root for the underdogs, cry over the stories of personal sacrifice, and cringe with every “agony of defeat.”
The athleticism and style of the Olympic competitors is of course remarkable, seemingly unreal to us “real folks.” From the synchronized divers, who are leaping from a platform 30+ feet in the air to spin and twist until entering flawlessly in the water in perfect unison with their partner, to the gymnasts who are solid muscle, hurling their bodies through the air with outstanding strength and style…and to all the other athletes in the 300 other Olympic events, they are somehow not of this world. They truly are awesome, in every sense of that word.
Yet we somehow find ways to relate to these “gods of strength and skill”, to feel like we are making some sort of personal connection, even if we don’t truly know any of them personally, and can not fathom how they do what they do.
Last night, while sweating my way through a strength training workout, one of the other Real Women in the workout said she just kept thinking about the Olympic athletes. And I laughed, because she was right, those pinnacles of athletic prowess were certainly doing far more challenging activities than trying to get through 60 minutes of a circuit class. I told her how I had heard a promotional piece, with quotes from athletes about the things they had given up while training. One said he hadn’t watched tv in a year, another hadn’t had a dessert in two years…and here I was, looking forward to a reward of chocolate frozen yogurt when I got home while watching them on tv.
We all have an emotional connection for sure with the Olympics, from the feelings of national pride, to the pagentry and tradition, to the fondness and awe of the athletes themselves. Proctor & Gamble has produced a brilliant campaign this year as a sponsor of the Olympics, focusing on moms. I’m willing to bet nearly every woman seeing some of those spots has felt a little “verklempt.”
True, for some of our young people, the Olympic competitors could be providing the inspiration they are looking for to some day become elite athletes themselves, to maybe even compete in the Games of the future. But for the rest of us, the inspiration we derive is of a different sort. In this world of so much ugly, scary, sad news that we get pelted with every day, the Olympics give us an escape. We can tune in at any moment to be part of the cheering crowd, to experience the unending energy of the participants, and to just plain feel good. Our families and friends come together to talk about it, to watch together, to feel proud of our country, and to feel happy and hopeful for a change.
I think my son said it best this morning when we turned on the tv to catch any updates we missed overnight. He said “the Olympics feel like a holiday.”
Yes. Yes, they do.