Olympics taught us all a thing or two about life

Having wrapped up an international celebration worthy of gold-medal praise, the Australians have delivered a shining example for future Olympic host cities to emulate, providing more than enough of those memorable Kodak moments to fill innumerable scrapbooks. And, as the Olympics have drawn to a close, we simply can’t resist taking one last lingering look at Games of the 27th Olympiad.

The first Games of the new millennium certainly lived up to the Olympic creed which is derived from the Latin phrase: "citius, altius, fortius" meaning "swifter, higher, stronger". With world records set and incredible feats of athletic ability demonstrated, the games were filled with their share of American-made predictable victories — blended beautifully with more than enough surprise, startling upsets and disappointment to keep things interesting.

For the cynics, surely no one can argue with the fact that the games have strayed a long way from their "purely athletic" ideal. Historically, the drama taking place off the athletic field has at times proven itself even more compelling than that which takes place in the Olympic venues. Snapshots and telecasts from the games in Mexico City offered the political symbolism of Black Power as clenched fists showed the world the magnitude of racial unrest in the United States. The image of hostages, terrorism and shocking deaths will forever be etched in our minds as the lingering impression from Munich. Politics at it worst tainted the Moscow and Los Angeles games with international boycotts and Cold War anger robbing many athletes of their only chance for Olympic glory. Blood doping and performance enhancing steroids grabbed the headlines away from legitimate athletes in Seoul. Crass commercialism, bribery, corruption and influence peddling have been added to the mix of the modern day Olympiad, causing some to wonder if the Games have become more trouble than they’re worth.

In spite of all the controversy and the most recent round of drug abuse allegations, there are more than enough sincere, heartfelt moments and positive examples of sportsmanship to make the games worthwhile. For, when all is said and done, the Olympics still bring with them an undeniable spirit. There are chances for the world to watch and hold its breath as athletes young and old get close enough to touch their life-long dreams — while carrying the pride and expectations of entire nations on their shoulders. Athletes and their families who have sacrificed much of their lives for this opportunity have earned that goose-bump-raising moment when their country’s flag is hoisted in triumph and the national anthem rings through the crowded venue.

When it comes to sportsmanship, the American athletes and their fans could certainly take a lesson from their Aussie hosts by tempering the pride in our inevitable success. Some of the most poignant moments of the Games came as the Australian fans stood and cheered enthusiastically for the young African swimmer who labored the length of the Olympic pool to post a time that will never appear in any record book and just as loudly for those who struggled at the end of the grueling marathon as the medallists. By remembering to appreciate the outstanding efforts by competitors from other nations, Americans might be able to erase the "ugly American" image.

After the roads of Sydney have been swept clean of the debris left by thousands of athletes and their fans, perhaps American hero and worldclass cyclist Lance Armstrong’s words will sum it up for everyone. After finishing a disappointing 13th in his first medal attempt last Wednesday, Armstrong remarked: "Win or lose — I’m having a blast." Armstrong surely exemplifies the words of the athletes’ oath: "The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph, but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered, but to have fought well."


FROM Talkback

WHERE Story LIKE ‘../Stories/00/10/3/13016293.cfm’

AND Dateverified LIKE ‘verified’

ORDER BY Dateposted

Talk back

Talk to us

More in Opinion

Phlebotomist Heather Evans preps JaNeen Aagaard a donation at Bloodworks NW Friday afternoon in Everett at July 3o, 2021.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Editorial: Get back in (or start) your habit of giving blood

The pandemic’s effects and fewer younger donors too often leave blood supplies dangerously low.

Editorial cartoons for Thursday, June 8

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

Lummi Tribal members Ellie Kinley, left, and Raynell Morris, president and vice president of the non-profit Sacred Lands Conservancy known as Sacred Sea, lead a prayer for the repatriation of southern resident orca Sk’aliCh’elh-tenaut — who has lived and performed at the Miami Seaquarium for over 50 years — to her home waters of the Salish Sea at a gathering Sunday, March 20, 2022, at the sacred site of Cherry Point in Whatcom County, Wash.

The Bellingham Herald
Editorial: What it will require to bring Tokitae home

Bringing home the last captive orca requires expanded efforts to restore the killer whales’ habitat.

A map of the I-5/SR 529 Interchange project on Tuesday, May 23, 2023 in Marysville, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Editorial: Set your muscle memory for work zone speed cameras

Starting next summer, not slowing down in highway work zones can result in a $500 fine.

File - A teenager holds her phone as she sits for a portrait near her home in Illinois, on Friday, March 24, 2023. The U.S. Surgeon General is warning there is not enough evidence to show that social media is safe for young people — and is calling on tech companies, parents and caregivers to take "immediate action to protect kids now." (AP Photo Erin Hooley, File)
Editorial: Warning label on social media not enough for kids

The U.S. surgeon general has outlined tasks for parents, officials and social media companies.

Comment: After LIV-PGA merger, Saudis are just getting started

The money from their wealth fund may prove irresistible to other sports organizations in the U.S.

Comment: Feuding Russian forces point to problems for Putin

Infighting among Russia units, mercenaries and irregulars raises doubts amid Ukraine’s counteroffensive.

Comment: We should worry more about AI’s creators than AI itself

Their warnings of an ‘extinction threat’ are part marketing tool and part effort to avoid scrutiny.

Comment: Expect battles as Oklahoma lowers church-state wall

State funding of a Catholic school may require the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on the establishment clause.

Most Read