11 Aug
2016
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For the Love of Olympics

Barcelona 1992. That was when my passion for all things Summer Olympics began. I watched everything I could in those pre-Internet days and stood in the grocery store reading magazine article after magazine article devouring every athlete profile tidbit I could. Gail Devers, Jennifer Capriati, Derek Redman and the basketball Dream Team were brought up in conversation as if they were friends of the family. Not much has changed in 22 years. My passion for the Olympics runs deep, and I’ve instilled that love in my children.

While my love for the games is strong, the reasons behind it have shifted over the decades. That high school kid dreamed of what it would be like to be those athletes. The possibilities seemed endless if I had the drive and the opportunities. The married mother of four I am now, no longer wonders what it would be like to be the athlete. I want to text those nervous parents in the stands watching their babies leave it all on the court, mat, track and pool.

Behind every person who is passionate and successful about something, there is at least one other person emotionally invested in that passion. I see those parents, grandparents and coaches watching those Olympic athletes and see the hours spent in cars and hotel rooms. I see the effort put into stretching a tight budget to give children opportunities. I see the siblings who have been to countless meets and games. Those athletes are my children for two weeks every four years. I rejoice with them and think of words to heal their shattered hearts when the medal isn’t theirs.

girl drawing a picture for Michael Phelps

Families losing their minds as they celebrate the victories of their own get to me every single time. I get Aly Raisman’s parents. I would be a hot mess of a spectator watching one of my children on the world’s biggest stage. Matching shirts on fans, tears on the podium, fists pumping and yelling have my feelings in overdrive. Rowdy Gaines fires me up like no other announcer, and Bob Costas is like a lovely worn sweater I forgot I owned. After a long political season of this country fighting against itself, I was in need of an infusion of USA pride. Standing in solidarity, even if it is to claim the most decorated Olympic athlete of all-time as our own, is a welcome change to the arguing across party lines.

I’ve been avoiding my social media feeds because of the endless barrage of political rhetoric. Now I avoid it because I cannot have my primetime Olympic watching spoiled. Do not tell me what happened. We cannot be friends if you ruin the finals. I rely on Bob to breakdown the day for me and emotionally build the events until I’m, literally, on the edge of my couch cushions in anticipation.

I appreciate the passion, intensity and effort put in by these athletes and coaches. Making the world bigger for my kids by exposing them to the need for a refugee team or explaining the importance of a selfie taken by gymnasts from two very different Koreas is necessary parenting. Global discussions wrapped in an athletic package is a delivery my kids can understand. Thank you Team USA for another Olympics full of memories and for the work you’ll put in out of the limelight until Tokyo in 2020.

 

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