We have just wrapped up one of my top three favorite summer television experiences – THE OLYMPICS!
There is nothing more inspirational to me than watching the Olympics. The level of talent and sportsmanship that is shown (not counting the Canadian women's soccer player who stomped on a U.S. player's head) across the board makes me proud to be an American – proud to be human.
I start my Olympic countdown a few weeks ahead. And once the games begin – I could easily sit on my chair, my couch at my computer or in my bed and watch as much of almost every sport there is. Sometimes I wonder about the sport – for example, I did not know that Badminton became an Olympic sport in 1992, and I am left to wonder – why? It doesn't matter. I'll watch it – at least for a little while. I tune in to the sports that interest me where the talent is simply amazing
Did you happen to catch the men's 4X100 meter relay? That's 400 meters (slightly more than 4 football fields) – and the winning time was just shy of 37 SECONDS! That means each man ran it in about 9 seconds. Watching it on television – they were literally a blur!
Swimming has always been my favorite sport to watch. I have always been a swimmer, and for a brief moment had a goal (after Mark Spitz won his medals in '72) to become an Olympic swimmer. My mom explored getting me into a training program – but I really didn't have the drive to do it. So I am satisfied with watching.
I also like to watch the sports that don't generally receive attention – things like archery and fencing. I fenced in college and absolutely loved the sport. In fact, I wouldn't mind taking it up again. And the equestrian sports are fascinating to watch. And I absolutely LOVE synchronized swimming.
Brannon enjoyed watching swimming – especially Ryan Lochte – soccer, the field games (not track) and fencing. Palmer didn't watch too much, but he enjoyed the swimming, as well.
I tend not to tune into the team sports like soccer and basketball too much – although I watch. Was it wrong of me to be rooting for Spain to win the Men's Basketball gold medal game against the U.S.? Not that the U.S. players aren't good – but I take issue with high paid professional athletes participating in games that are for young amateur talent. Why is it OK for a basketball player who makes multi-millions of dollars to participate, but a swimmer isn't allowed to accept prize money at a meet – money that might keep their family from facing financial ruin to support their training.
Whatever – the games are fun, they are inspirational. I cannot make it through the two weeks without crying – several times.
The tears start with the opening ceremony – which I watch from start to finish. We all look forward to the extravaganza – capped by the entrance of the athletes. Each Olympics opening ceremony is, of course, specific to the host country. Remember the pageantry and scope of the Beijing opening ceremonies four years ago? The opening to the London games was more subtle – sometimes – and it seemed more intimate.
The highlight for me in any games is the raising of the Olympic flag and the lighting of the Olympic torch. That part of the ceremony always puts me in tears. The world can come together – and forget about the differences that divide us – all in the name of sport for that short period of time. This year's cauldron was spectacular – each leaf carried in by a country and added to the cauldron – only to join together as one.
I love the inspirational stories that come out of the games – the stories of what athletes and their families have sacrificed for their moment at the Olympics, their determination against the odds to make it to the top of their sport.
Did you hear the story about runner Bryshon Nellum, who was shot in both legs four years ago, and battled his way back to the track – fighting back from being unable to walk to being part of the silver medal men's 4X400 meter relay in London.
I love the pageantry of the Olympics, the competition, the color, the sport and the stories.
There are things about how the event is covered on television that I don't like too much. For example, I don't like how the U.S. athletes are built up and built up by the announcers, and then when they don't win gold – are asked questions like – 'how are you feeling about winning the silver?' I get that they are training and hoping for gold, but if it were me – I would say – 'Dude, I won a medal at the OLYMPICS! What did you do today?' When Ryan Lochte didn't win additional individual gold after defeating Michel Phelps in the 400 IM – it was like he had failed to deliver. He beat the most decorated Olympian ever – and took home FIVE MEDALS! From where I sat – Lochte totally delivered!
I just turn the sound down on the announcers and watch. The games speak for themselves!
Yes, it was a very satisfying 17 days in London.
Now it's on to my #2 and #3 favorite summer television events … that also only come once every four years – THE PRESIDENTIAL CONVENTIONS! Also full of drama – a bit less inspiring perhaps – but entertaining nonetheless. The Presidential Conventions are full of spectacle and they are colorful, to be sure.
I am proud of the fact that we live in a country where we select who leads our country – even if it's no unanimous. But we know going in, what the outcomes of each of these events will be.
Let the games begin! Follow Donna Rovins and The Southern Berks News on Twitter at @sthrnberksnews