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All I Want Out of the Olympics

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All I want to do is watch the Olympics. I want to see the opening ceremonies, start to finish, (I might duck out to get pizza during the Parade of Nations, but the rest of it I want to see.) I want to watch my country take home bronze, silver, and even gold. I want to share the joy when someone somewhere realizes that they have beat the best in the world. I want to do my best to ignore the undercurrent of tension that occurs every two years when the world comes together, the subdued stress of hosting a dinner party where all the guests who don’t usually get along compromise to civility. I want to hold my breath as world records are set (by whatever country) and gymnasts’ hands somehow find the high bar after tumbling through stadium air like windblown ribbon. I want to be awed. And I want everyone else in the world to be as awed as I am.

Yet somehow the world, or at least the United States, seems unsatisfied with an Olympic games that leaves no room for scandal, discontent and disappointment. And so this is my response, my insignificant plea. I don’t want to jump up and down in my living room as the men’s swimming relay team flies to a breath-taking silver-medal finish and then read the headline “Men’s relay suffers stunning loss.” I don’t want to keep hearing how Michael Phelp’s seventeen Olympic medals are insufficient or how Ryan Lochte is “threatening to overthrow him” as if they weren’t representing the same country, as if they weren’t teammates. I don’t want to find out a week after the opening ceremonies that NBC has neglected to air parts of the spectacle that they deemed “irrelevant to Americans,” such as the few minutes of the event dedicated to memorialize victims of terrorism.

All I want to do is to watch the Olympics. All I want to do is beg the media to allow this event to be as inspiring and awesome and entertaining and hopeful and personal as it has the capacity to be. Because when you tear down our heroes, when you only accept perfection, when it becomes all about beating the other guys or making money off of television broadcasts, it’s not the Olympics anymore.




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