For the last week, we’ve piled together –too many bodies on too small a sofa– to watch the Winter Olympics.
We’ve become fans of sports we didn’t know existed last week.
We’ve tried curling on the kitchen floor.
We’ve ice-skated in our socks.
We’ve sighed at losses and fist bumped at victories.
We’ve held our breath in nervous anticipation.
The Olympics are so much more than a worldwide sporting event. They are about unity, about the world coming together. They are about endurance and hard work. They are about the defeat of champions and victory of underdogs. They are about finishing what you started.
More than 20 years ago, I sat in my USA leotard in my living room and watched a girl a couple of years older win gold in gymnastics. I never made it to a platform and gold never hung around my neck, but I’ve never stopped dreaming or doing the impossible. I traded a leotard for a laptop and now I watch my son practice archery for hours with Olympic rings in his dreams.
[Mom brag moment: this past weekend my son won his division for the state of Texas in Junior Olympic Archery for recurve. Here he is with Olympic Archery team member, Vick Wunderle, who autographed his winning target]
I want my kids to dream to do the impossible. I want them to feel the spirit of the Olympics rise up within them. I want them to find their purpose and accomplish what they are called to do.
I’m proud to be an American.
But sometimes I’m embarrassed by our actions.
We’ve turned social media into a forum to complain about first world problems and mock others–even at the Olympics. I understand this is mostly fueled by ignorance. Not everyone has been exposed to extreme poverty, but I quickly tired of hearing about the missing doorknobs and unfinished hotel rooms in Sochi, in a country that has spent more money in the history of the Olympics to present perfection on the backs of a broken people. I want my kids to look past the complaints about the color of the drinking water in an oppressed country and remember the millions of people who will still have undrinkable water weeks after the venues are empty.
Russia spent 51 billion dollars on the Olympics.
1500 families were kicked out of there homes (some at gunpoint) to make room for infrastructure.
“As journalists and athletes began to check in, social media site Twitter exploded with “#Sochi” tweets sharing traveler woes such as hotels without lobbies, water outages, guests trapped in malfunctioning elevators, faulty plumbing, missing manhole covers, unfinished sidewalks, and showers without shower curtains. A Twitter account dedicated to sharing these tweets quickly gained 325,000 followers, while the official account of the Winter Olympics has only recently cleared 200,000 followers.” source
This isn’t the first or last time a country will overspend to showcase an over-the-top show. Fences separated poor slum conditions from athletes in Bejing, too.
I know this is a global issue. I love my country. I am proud to be an American, but I’m more proud to be human.
And when the world comes together, I want to my kids to see what really matters.
It’s not winning. It’s not a medal. It’s not victory. It’s not building something beautiful on top of something broken. It’s laying down the flags and color and language that divides us and it’s having compassion for others, even if they live and believe differently than we do, especially then. It’s lending a competitor a ski when his breaks in the middle of the race; it’s speeding down a mountain for your down syndrome brother who can’t.
This is the Olympic spirit.
More than winning, I want my children to value the beauty of helping those behind us in the race. I want them to be the one to come along the injured runner, the limping skier, and lend a hand.
I want them to finish this race well, not necessarily first, but with dignity and integrity.