Every morning when I arrive at the train station I buy a newspaper. Usually it’s a San Francisco Chronicle. On days when I am feeling especially indulgent I will fork over the $1.50 for a Wall Street Journal. However, almost any newspaper with a sports section will do. Especially now that the Olympics are here!
Digression: Why I don’t just get a subscription I don’t know. I think it’s because I like physically handing over my money to the cute little old man who has set up shop at the station. He smiles at me, I buy a paper. In the meantime I support the flagging industry I desperately don’t want to see go under. But that is another post entirely.
The ritual begins with me studying the front page. I force myself to finish reading all of the top stories even if they don’t necessarily interest me. And lately, I find myself reluctantly skimming over nearly everything. These days the papers and online media seem saturated with bad news: stocks are falling, the dollar is weak, foreclosures are up, California is burning, another earthquake in China, we’re still in Iraq, we’re losing ground in Afghanistan, another win for big oil, another day we failed to steward the environment – we failed to be responsible stewards to each other.
After trying to absorb it all, I then turn to the one section I really care about. The sports pages. And this is where we begin today.
The Olympics officially begin tomorrow. And I will admit, I’m excited. However, most of the coverage leading up to it has been about the pollution in Beijing and the protests surrounding the Chinese human rights violations.
Now, I hate to sound totally insensitive, but I don’t care. I don’t like using the Olympics as a platform for political discussions. At least, not during the games. Save it for the years when we actually select the site of the future games. That seems more appropriate and a better way to actually get countries to change: You want to host the games? Then you have to play nice. No throwing sand at the people harboring different political and theological beliefs.
WIth all the negative coverage about the games, I feel like I don’t know any of the athletes participating except for Michael Phelps. And I’m pretty sure he isn’t the only athlete the U.S. is sending. Can someone please write about the athletes participating in trampoline? Who even knew that was an event?!?
The Olympics come around once every four years and feature what is supposed to be the best of the best competitors the world has to offer in one single unifying event. The games are not about politics, they are not about economics. In truth, they are not even about winning. The Olympics are about the one moment when a group of differences come together for the same goal: to compete.
The most compelling stories are always those of athletes who have suffered and overcome – athletes who never had a chance, athletes who beat the odds. One can only wonder how some of these men and women drew the strength to train while living in the rubble of war zones, in gymnasiums sagging under the weight of failed political and economic expectations.
Yet, somehow, they are competing on the world’s largest of stages. And in many ways, some of them likely survived because of their sport. In the days ahead, I hope the press focuses coverage on those who have sacrificed everything for the past four years, those who have nothing else to give and no clear future to go home to afterwards.