Maybe it’s just me, but I’m sad to see the Olympics go
All summer long I’ve been dreading the end of the Olympics, because after the close of each Games I suffer from temporary yet unmistakable ennui.
I’m moving locally later this week and adopting a puppy the week after. That could probably be classified by professionals as avoidance of my impending gloom.
For me the Olympic obsession goes back to Kristi Yamaguchi in Albertville in 1992 and Shannon Miller in Barcelona just a few months later. I had been hooked on presidential elections since 1988, when I was just five years old, because I watched and heard 12-year-old Jackie Jackson say, “If I were old enough to vote, I would vote for my dad.”
Yes, there’s a through line there.
After I heard Jackson say that, my five-year-old brain thought, “I wish my dad would run for president so I could do that.”
Then, I admit, in between practicing Oscar speeches like all of you did when you were nine, I also daydreamed about doing back flips on balance beams and triple axels on frozen water, which I suppose were the sporting events that fit my musical theater hobby best. Many years later, I’ve still never done a real cartwheel, and I can barely move in ice skates — but I’m finally athletic, I swear!
Ultimately I became a political reporter, a very close second to being the president’s daughter.
Both the Olympics and our elections should be huge sources of national pride. And hey, how can you not love the pageantry? Guys, that’s how the NFL makes money.
I’ve been a legal adult for a long time now, but I jump up and down like a four-year-old whose parents let her sprinkle sugar on her Cheerios every time I hear those drums kicking off one of NBC’s impassioned Olympic broadcasts. I also feel that during both parties’ political conventions, the presidential debates and election nights.
Like everyone else, I love a good Coke commercial. I’ve always been susceptible to clever advertising and gimmickry, but Coke sure does nail the spirit of the Olympics better than anyone else. UPS came close a few Games ago with a commercial supporting their employees competing in the Olympics. (You read that right. Isn’t that so cool? Many Olympic athletes have full-time jobs outside their sport and don’t just make money off of endorsements.)
Patriotism is supposed to be palpable during our elections, and during the Olympics. Frankly, I wish the primetime coverage included winning performances by non-Americans. In gymnastics, I used to love watching the Russians and Romanians. Obviously, different countries’ strengths wax and wane, but we could have used a more global focus.
NBC’s coverage decisions aside, I found the collective global attitude toward these Games in Rio concerning.
I know: The water was green in the pool. Body limbs washed up on the beach. Zika scared everyone away. Circumstantial problems every city has.
And then: The host city was behind in construction. The IOC was dealing with corruption issues. Russians dabbled in performance-enhancing drugs. Ryan Lochte did something dumb.
In other news, the world is round, and the sun rises in the East.
Every two years, the Olympics serve as the only world-uniting event. It’s always full of passion junkies. There are great stories, triumphs and comebacks. Lots of overcoming adversity. Goosebumps run rampant. Especially with so much bad news happening all over the world every day, why not celebrate? It’s a huge opportunity for a host city to shine and drive this sentiment.
The United States should go for it again and had a chance in 2024 but opted for a city that rejected the chance.
Boston, I love you, and I love your show, but what were you thinking? You were built on this kind of passion and patriotism. You came back strong after you got hit. You could have changed this. I’m disappointed in you. I’m hopeful another American city will take this cause up soon.
As for me, I’m going to remember Simone Manuel’s class and incredible win, Brazil’s heart-stopping shootout victory, Aly Raisman’s all-around redemption and Carmelo Anthony’s bittersweet tears for his four-time-Olympian career coming to an end.
Here’s the great news: These moments happen in every Olympics.
So don’t anyone tell me in 2018 that the winter Games are boring. Get into the spirit of it.
Eighteen months to go.