I have always found the Olympics, whether winter or summer, to be immensely entertaining for one reason: It’s sense of unity. Countries from across the world forget the political nonsense hovering over them and join in a celebration of skill. For a few short weeks we remember how fun and rewarding something as simple as a game can be.
That is why the issue of medals is so distracting. Canada invested millions of dollars in an effort to “Own the Podium”. They burned resources that could have been used elsewhere and treated foreign athletes unfairly. Everything became about who had the better skis and most aerodynamic suits.
When it became clear Canada would not claim the most medals, the success of the United States shifted from enjoyable to boastful. Suddenly, American athletes have begun mocking Canada and flaunting their own prowess. No performance matters for viewers unless a gold medal comes along with it. Americans have begun to miss the point of the Olympic Games.
In truth, medals should be far from the top of the list of concerns for competing countries. The sheer joy and excitement of participating in such a massive event is reward enough for most of the athletes there. It takes just as much courage to shrug off a crash and come back in another event as it does to win a gold and be expected to repeat.
So I say forget about the rampant patriotism. Start focusing on the amazing stories many of the foreign athletes have. Savor an American (or Canadian, or German, or whoever) victory, but don’t lament when an underdog country digs out a victory. The Olympics is about loving the celebrations, the surprises, and the crazy performances that happen along the way.
So I say; Go World.