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I am not and have not really been a fan of televised sports. But I always loved the Olympics as a youth. We all got so excited about it. I think it was the only form of obvious patriotism I've been enthusiastic about. I'm not entirely sure how I became so romantic about it. I just loved the idea of amateur athletes contesting with the best of their field from all over the world. I loved that we see and hear about countries that never get coverage in the US press. I loved the different cultures and the stories of the athletes meeting each other and making cross-cultural connections.

The doping by East European nations didn't make me feel too bad because while I've never been as conservative as the majority of this country, I certainly bought into the idea that you couldn't expect Eastern Europe and the Communist countries to play fair. So it didn't really count to me. Everyone knew they were cheating. What REALLY killed my idealism about the Olympics was the year the US sent the "Dream Team". Sending professional athletes is against everything the Olympics are supposed to stand for. I stopped watching or following the Olympics.

This year would be much the same except that this morning I saw the still photos of the Opening Ceremony and it just looked mind-blowing. Olympic Opening Ceremonies normally bore the hell out of me. Kinda like the interpretative dances at the Oscars... But I was so impressed by what I saw in photos that I found myself really looking forward to viewing the ceremony. So I tuned in. I was out to dinner with my dad so I probably missed all the stuff I wanted to see. Right now I'm watching the Parade of Nations. And I find myself feeling touched again. I love seeing all these nations, particularly the small nations, and seeing their athletes' national pride. There are very few nations I feel resentful of when I see them in this Olympic truce. And even with the nations I *did* feel resentful of (like the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia), I could remind myself that I wasn't seeing the politicians, I was seeing people. Just some athletes. And in a lot of countries where the Olympics isn't big business, the athletes are not all THAT far removed from average citizens.

I find myself getting sentimental again. There was a point when I was really young that I nurtured a fantasy about making the Olympics as part of a US soccer team. And tonight I remember that fantasy and the desire to meet all these people in the Olympic Village. The fantasy of a sort of free port, a truce, a bit of neutral ground where people could meet people from all nations and just celebrate being together.

It probably never was. It's probably a fantasy I made up in my childish brain but it still has a powerful hold on me. I'm a glass half empty person, I'm (sadly) a pessimist, and there are many days where I think that human nature ISN'T basically good. But then I can get all misty and sentimental about something like this.


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September 2014

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