I love the Olympics so much. I know I’m not supposed to love these Olympics because there are lots of concerns about Russia and gay rights and human rights and the killing of stray dogs in the street and I share those concerns, I really, really do.
But then I watch the opening ceremony and I look at every single athlete who marches past the television camera and I think of their love for sport and how it must feel to compete for your country at something that you have given your life and your sweat and your body to and I start cheering like a complete goofball.
I don’t care what the sport is; after I put my kids to bed, I turn on the TV and I sit and marvel at the competitors and also what an expert I have suddenly turned into on any given sport. (“Ooooh, little bit of a bobble on the snowslope rail there.)
I think about what it must feel like to stand at the top of a hill of moguls and look at the bottom and prepare for the 25 seconds that lie between.
I wonder what it was like the first time a now-seasoned skier flew off of a jump. (I stood at the top of an Olympic ski jump in Lake Placid once and it looked scary as hell.)
I imagine how tired a figure skater’s legs must be after a four-minute program that she makes look effortless. I marvel at the athletes who compete in multiple events and imagine how exhausted they must be.
I think about the athletes who know they won’t win anything but who are proud just to be there. (Damn, I would be too.)
I listen to the commentators and how excited they are and think about the fact that there are many experienced judges for every single idiosyncratic event (even curling). I also watch the status of Bob Costas’ eye and wonder when he’s going to appear with an eye patch.
I watch the faces of the athletes who lose the gold medal in speed skating by some infinitesimal amount of time and think about the capriciousness of any given race.
I remember how tired my body is after a five or six or seven mile slow run and wonder what it must be like to be as fit as any one of the athletes who walked in that opening ceremony.
I watch the ecstasy of victory and the agony of defeat. I chew up the human interest stories that NBC churns out. (Alex hates them so much.) I cheer every athlete and every sport and every event—qualifiers, finals, whatever. I know that sports that seem so simple as I watch them really involve unimagined quantities of focus and strategy and training and strength—physical and mental.
I love every second.
I’ll be back in a couple of weeks. I have some cheering to do.