However, these are secondary to the athletic performances that capture the imagination of all. The games display a sense of natural human unity despite the overlay of politics that seeks to divide us.
There is nothing to compare to the sheer delight in watching young athletes perform at the highest possible level. One has to wonder at the dedication, focus, and ability on display by all…even those who fail to medal. Acts of absolute human wonder are exhibited. Magnificent to watch.
Additionally, the participant’s emotions bring tears to one’s eyes. Some who never expected to win suddenly find themselves standing on the podium with a gold medal around their necks. Simone Manuel comes to mind. She is the African-American swimmer who won the 100 meter Freestyle race. She was not expected to even medal, much less win. The expression of shock and amazement on her beautiful young face was priceless when she touched the wall and turned around to suddenly realize her achievement.
The same can be said about the victory of Dmitiry Balandin of Kazakhstan who won the 200 meter men’s breaststroke. He too was an unknown, unacknowledged athlete who surprised himself and the world with his victory. That is what the games are all about, achieving your dreams.
Other matters come to mind as well. Who could not notice the exceptional human bond that exists among the American female gymnastic team. They are more than a team, theirs is a sisterhood. Each loves and supports the other while simultaneously seeking their personal best. This is what teamwork is all about.
Additionally, one cannot help but notice the diverse cultural backgrounds of each. Their cultural differences had no bearing on their relationships or performance. Hispanic, African-American, and White girls stood tall together with no barriers separating them. They demonstrated what is so grand about America. There is a lesson here for everyone.
They are what America is really all about, and from my experience, this is a far better gauge of our reality than what the media, politicians, and so call “activists” insist is the case. The vast majority of Americans could care less about race, religion, of ethnicity. We bond with the people we like and work with. This Olympic team demonstrates that reality to the discomfort of those who seek to divide us.
Finally, one had to consider the circumstances surrounding the location of the Olympic events. When Brazil won the bid to host the games, that nation was on a trajectory to vast wealth…one of the BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China) that would soon economically eclipse the western world. That brief burst of energy soon dissipated into economic and political chaos.
Brazil today is poor and struggling to meet its obligations to its own suffering people. Having to spend billions to host an athletic contest borders on the obscene. The same applies to nearly all of the other recent venues to hold the Olympics. Even the expensive Russian and Chinese infrastructures are underused.
Perhaps it is time to make a drastic change. Host the games in two select nations. The summer games should be held in Greece, and the winter games in Switzerland. Greece is the founder of the games and the Swiss have a reputation of neutrality garnished with a lot of snow.
Different nations could bid to host the games at these locations and all nations could contribute to building and maintaining the venues. This would solve a multitude of problems, remove politics and corruption for the bidding process, and prevent nations from bankrupting themselves trying to meet impossible expectations.
The spirit of the summer and winter Olympics is too valuable to have it tarnished by continued political and economic turmoil or threats of being discontinued for financial reasons. The focus on peaceful rivalry in place of warfare, the actual reasons for ancient Greece’s decision to invent the games, is critical in these troubled times.
The Olympic Games provide a necessary opportunity for the world to demonstrate what is grand about humanity. Physical prowess, mental toughness, and an awareness that affection can transcend the borders that separate us. The games prove that understanding and human connections can exist among the peoples of the world when given the opportunity to work together.
Of greatest importance, it is critical that we do not give victory to the despoilers who seek to divide us. The games must continue as a tribute to what is great about humanity. As Americans we too must turn our backs on the all the haters among us who seek to spread anger and discord.
Ron Chapman is an award winning columnist, educator and businessman#Olympics2016 Tweets