What I Like about the Olympics

There are many things I like about the Olympics. First of all, I admire the athletes. These individuals have worked extremely hard and trained for years to earn the right to compete in these games. This means they swam laps, ran on a track, lifted weights, rowed a boat, jumped hurdles, swung a tennis racket, rode a horse, or did flips on a four-inch wooden beam virtually every day for years! While most of us were still in bed in the morning, they were at the gym, pool, shooting range, field, or track practicing, practicing, practicing.

I admire their common goal: they all want to stand on that podium and hear their national anthem played. But even if they don’t win a medal, they all have the satisfaction of knowing they are among the best in the world in what they do.

I’m also fascinated by the wide variety of competitions: synchronized diving, rowing, skeet shooting, judo, beach volleyball, basketball, archery, water polo, running, pole vaulting, canoe slalom, weight lifting, to name a few. Some competitions are more popular to watch (like gymnastics and diving, for me), but all competitions require incredible skills.

But what I like best about the Olympics are the opening ceremonies. I love the special effects and the pageantry. This year I was mesmerized by the depiction of the rise of the Industrial Revolution, by the celebration of England’s many contributions to literature and music, and by the Queen herself parachuting into the stadium with James Bond! The sight of thousands of people working together to produce such beauty makes me wonder:  What other kinds of beauty could we humans produce together if we put our minds to it? How about world peace? Or what about saving our planet?

The Olympics aren’t perfect. For one thing, the “playing field” is far from level. Imagine, for example, what resources the US athletes have compared to athletes from countries such as Palau, Turkmenistan, and Myanmar. I also don’t like keeping track of which country wins the most medals. Who cares? I say. I’m proud of every athlete who participates let alone wins.

In short, for me the Olympics prove that people can come together from all over the world for a worthy, entertaining, and fun-filled endeavor. At the opening and closing ceremonies, when the thousands of athletes march in behind their nation’s flag, I always get a little choked up. I really love the diversity of people, flags, and attire. And I pray that in the future, we, the human community, may “march together” on this earth in ever greater peace and harmony.

Do you like the Olympics? Why or why not?

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  1. Sr.Maggie Moore,SSj on August 6, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    Melannie, You are so on target with the OLympians, and with your
    Retreatants! The olympians strain every muscle in their body for GOLD…
    all we have to do is “marinate …to be SEASONED IN THE LORD”.
    No stress, no strain, and we get GOD!
    Sometimes life’s not fair….!!!!! Thanks…Maggie

    • Melannie Svoboda SND on August 7, 2012 at 8:45 am

      Dear Maggie, You’re right about “sometimes life’s not fair.” We usually say those words when we feel cheated. But we can utter them when we’re feeling blessed too! Melannie

  2. Colleen Mallette on August 6, 2012 at 7:23 pm

    I too love watching the Olympics and have been glued to my TV cheering on all of the wonderful and varied athletes. I so admire their dedication, sacrifice and hard work to compete in their events, some for over 10 years! My dilemma is how to explain to my 12-year old gymnast daughter that while she will be of age to compete in the 2016 Olympics as she would love to do, I selfishly would not want to give her up to endless practices at some far-away gymnasium and not have her joyful presence in our home! Thank you for your inspiring weekly messages, and I’m still enjoying reading and meditating on your book of poems “Just Because”.

    • Melannie Svoboda SND on August 7, 2012 at 8:48 am

      Dear Colleen, You raise a good issue: not only do the athletes make great sacrifices, but their loved ones and friends certainly do too. I think if I had a 12-year-old gymnast daughter, I’d feel the same way that you do! These are tough decisions to make! Thanks for writing! Melannie

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