What should be a celebration of the best in humanity—hard work, dedication, loyalty, support, teamwork, pursuing dreams, overcoming adversity, national pride—through the years has so often attracted what is most evil in the world.
The slaughter at Munich; the constant threat of terror; the politics, rumors, scandals; officials doping their own athletes and giving male hormones to women athletes; biased judging; boycotts; excesses; negative and mean-spirited journalists; the embarrassing worldwide media circus over a soap opera situation; and this year’s reported atrocity, the slaughter of the stray dogs of Sochi.
Thousands of friendly stray dogs roam the streets of Sochi after people have been displaced from their homes and put into apartments so that the Olympic venues could be built.
That story and many other negative stories may have been exaggerated since they seem to have originated with the segment of the Russian press hostile to the Olympics because of the billions spent to host the Winter games. These stories were picked up by the world press and passed on to readers.
Exaggerated or not, the world was outraged at the idea of slaughtering dogs. This brought forth the predictable, but tiresome, self-righteous editorializing, trying to shame people for caring more about dogs than about people who are being slaughtered by their own leaders in Syria and Ukraine.
I don’t remember an Olympics when there wasn’t war going on someplace. Athletes have had to give up their dream or flee their country to train.
The sports complex built for the 1984 Olympics in Sarajavo became one of many battle-torn makeshift graveyards in the city in later years.
And yet in spite of the evil and pettiness that tries to destroy the Olympics, the spirit of the young and not so young athletes manages to push that out of our minds as the games go on.
We know their stories. We are inspired with their victories and empathize with their defeats. The Olympians become friends that we get to know well and only see every four years.
They are far more appealing than the usual celebrity fare we are accustomed to seeing in the media. More fascinating and inspiring than twerking and whatever it is that the Kardashians do.
Bonnie Blair, Shaun White, Bode Miller, Johnny Weir, Evgeni Plushenko, Katerina Witt, Shani Davis, Kristi Yamaguchi, Elvis Stojko, Michelle Kwan, Apolo Ohno, Picabo Street, Scott Hamilton, Brian Orser, Brian Boytano, Viktor Petrenko, Dan Jansen, Eric Heiden and so many more through the years of the Winter games.
And then there are the athletes whose names we will never know. They carry the flag of countries we might be hard pressed to find on a map. They don't expect to win a medal. They are just representing their country and living their Olympic dream on the international stage.
Thank you...all of you
Now we have four years to learn to pronounce Pyeongchang