We were camping in Illinois last week on our way to the family reunion, so we missed the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Olympic Games. I didn't get to watch any events until late Thursday night after we returned home, so the last few days the television has seen more on time that it has all summer.
I love the events--especially some of the ones we don't get to see very often. It's fun to see something like water polo, kayaking, or archery, rather than the usual professional sports.
The sportsmanship in the Olympics is laudable. While everyone is cheering for their home country, they still cheer whole-heartedly for the other competitors. One of my boys commented on how they were surprised to see the athletes who "lost" congratulate the winners. And the medal placers congratulate the "losers." There is seldom any jeering. Spectators as well as competitors encourage and support everyone alike. Especially the underdog.
And possibly one of the most compelling parts of the Olympics is the stories we get to hear behind the athletes (and thank you, Visa, for getting Morgan Freeman to narrate your inspirational commercials which briefly highlight some of those stories).
Who will forget this year seeing a double-amputee from South Africa run a race--and do so well? Or a legally blind archer from Korea helping his team receive a medal? Or a former refugee who used to run for his life, now running for the enjoyment of the sport.
Prince and princess are on the same playing field as the commoner. Every participating country had a female competitor for the first time ever. And while the smaller, less developed nations usually don't have the financial backing for training their athletes, often an athlete from an underdog country ends up in a medal-winning heat here and there.
I know there is plenty of controversy behind parts of the Olympics, but there is much I can appreciate. So, thank you world, for coming together for a couple weeks, putting aside our political differences and cheering each other on. We need more moments like this to celebrate and encourage one another.