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Saturday, August 4, 2012

2012: The U.S.A. - China Olympics

"International Magical Cooperation," my Harry Potter-quoting sister reminds me while I obsess over the gold medal and overall medal count race of the U.S.A. vs. China.

"Yeah, I know, international relations and stuff.......Ron was wrong in obsessing about 'fraternizing with the enemy' and missed the whole point of the wizarding world's Quidditch World Cup...but seriously, we're beating China!!!! For now..."

    (2012 Olympic Torch - Public Domain photo)
It's strange how The Olympics can bring out such and sudden and fervent outpouring of patriotism. I've been getting up early to watch the U.S.A. women's soccer team play their games, and I've been cheering on our athletes like crazy, and annoying my family in the process, I'm sure.

China's going through the same thing - people all over China are shouting "GO CHINA!!! 加油!! We've GOT to beat America!!"

Everyone's being patriotic and having fun with the Olympics. It's one of those few events that (most) people can put aside their country's politics and just enjoy their team or individual event.

All of the athletes are there for the same reason: they've trained incredibly hard their entire lives and are now at the top of their game and are competing at literally the highest level possible. It's an honor just to qualify.

I don't know about you readers, but I'm still a pretty young guy at 23, so I don't really remember many Olympics. I remember some of the Olympics from 4 years ago in Beijing, but I only watched the opening ceremony and remember it being pretty legit. I wasn't even interested in China at that point - I just remember hearing about this guy Michael Phelps who was supposed to be pretty good.

I don't even remember the 2004 Olympics....where were they?

Anyway, few years later, here I am, and I'm pretty much glued to the action - it's a big deal. There are people from all over the world competing in sports you'd never watch otherwise - it's an opportunity to see something new.

When the spotlight is shined on the different athletes, we hear stories about their lives and their home countries. We heard about the kids from rough neighborhoods who found discipline in sports, the kids chosen at a young age to go to special training camps for years on end, kids who were pushed to excel and were encouraged by their parents and the people who literally do nothing but prepare and help others prepare for these games.

The stories provide interesting glimpses into the different cultures from which they stem, and while some highlight our differences, they all highlight universal truths:

We all want to leave behind a legacy. We want to be remembered. We all want to be great.

Yeah, this is going to be one of those "universality of human existence posts." I mean...I guess it is, I just kind of go and write with my thoughts.

We can't all be Michael Phelps or Usain Bolt or Muhammad Ali or Michael Jordan, but we all want to, to a certain extent. We want to be recognized for our skills and for our hard work and we want to be rewarded for it.

While the people who aren't competing are thinking about the implications of China winning the most golds and symbolically overtaking America or America staying on top with the most medals and yada-yada-yada/whatever, the competitors themselves aren't thinking of the political ramifications (except maybe the North Koreans) - they're there to show their hard work and to do their best to represent America or China.

I really wish I could be in China and talk to people about how they feel about the Olympics. I think it'd be a pretty interesting thing to look into, although I can't imagine the sentiments being any different than the sentiments here, but you never know.

But bickering about which country is the best at everything, who has the most medals, and which country takes the moral high ground when it comes to training is not the point of the Olympics, as my sister pointed out - it's "International Magical Cooperation."

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