The games are undoubtedly a source of political pride, as we root for our nation's athletes to bring home gold, silver or bronze. We keep track of the medal count and express our elation over the tally, or mild disappointment because of the ones we missed.
Not that any of that disappointment is placed on the broad shoulders of the competitors, of course. Just being at the Olympics is worthy of the highest admiration a person can get in the world of sports. The late Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the International Olympic Committee once said that the most important thing in the games is not winning but taking part. "The essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well."
This is an indisputable truth. Winning is nice, but just being part of the team is pretty awesome too. No matter what sport we are transfixed by the prowess of the incredible athletes performing feats of power, endurance and strength. We are humbled by the determination that brought them to this place. And we cheer for them as they fight on. It isn't about the battle; it's about maintaining the bar that's been set. Each person is there because they've reach the marker.
My son, however, who can always find a skewed way to see things, came up with an interesting thought the other day, one he proudly proclaimed was actually paraphrased later by a famous comedian. What would really demonstrate to us exactly how incredible Olympians are, is to let in some participants who didn't quite measure up. Telling us the time it takes to run a race is good. But wouldn't it be even more impressive to see, by comparison, how long we would wait for that average athlete to cross the finish line?
How much fun would it be to see what happens when college basketball meets the Olympic team? Or the country club's top tennis player coming up against Serena Williams?
Stuff and nonsense perhaps. But an interesting perspective nonetheless. These people are the best; we just don't really know what that means.
When I watch a baseball game, I often think that a few less innings or a few more could have changed the outcome. It's a fact that applies to all professional sports since each and every person on that team is a contender. And competing against equals means it's anyone's game.
We know, then, that there aren't any certainties in sports. Which is part of the reason we watch. We might think we'd like it, but how boring it would be if you knew your team was going to win all the time.
Another reason we crowd stadiums and turn on sports channels is because of a certain vicarious pleasure in seeing a job well done that we wish we could do as well. We admire the talent and ability. And we love the action.
As we are heading in to the end of the first week of the Olympics, finding clipart that conveys what we like about sports was my mission for today. What could best demonstrate the challenges, the power, the determination, action as well as the fun and love of the games would be best served, I decided, by animations. Here then are the terrific sports images from Animation Factory