I’m not a sports fan. I rarely watch the games on television. I openly admit to attending baseball games for the sport of “people watching.” When the Super Bowl comes around, I watch with a notebook for the commercials. Those advertisements are useful for teaching appeals to persuasion.
And yet, every four years, you’ll find me returning home to sit in front of the screen and watch certain sports. The Olympic Games.
For the opening and closing ceremonies, I made a point to be at home with everything crossed out on my “to do” list. We don’t have cable, but we do have the so-called rabbit ears antenna.
So, when we had some issue with the ears and I missed the first component of the opening ceremony, I was pretty upset. I called my dad to find out what I had missed.
I was also having great difficulty understanding why my online schedule for the events continued listing figure skating in the prime time slot.
And yet, my broadcast focused on the slaloms or alpine skiing. I finally figured out that there were multiple channels broadcasting, while our rabbit ears stuck to the single channel. I was sorely disappointed.
The night after my disappointment at not being able to watch the figure skating events, I came home later than usual. Immediately, I could hear the commentary of Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir.
Entering the living room, my husband proudly sat on the sofa and pointed. I saw cables connecting his laptop to the television so that we could stream the events.
Growing up, figure skating was the one sport I enjoyed. Growing up in the ’90s, I remember the figure skating greats: Scott Hamilton, Kristi Yamaguchi, Tara Lipinski, Brian Boitano and Michelle Kwan.
And who could forget the showdown between Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding?
I remember “skating” around the wooden floors in my house, wearing my nightgown.
The first time I ever stepped foot on ice was during a family vacation. That’s when I realized the difficulty of the sport. I don’t think I was able to remove myself from the sides of the arena.
What is it about the Olympic Games that creates a sense of excitement? While the sports themselves and the judging components have changed over the years, I’m sure that many of us recognize the familiar “Daaa dum, da dum, da dum, dadum, dadaum dadum” of the Olympic fanfare.
We know what it means, and it echoes in our heads throughout the two weeks of the Games.
I don’t have an answer. I used to think the excitement was created by the immense competition. Survival of the fittest. A chance for nations to prove themselves.
Victorian notions of muscular Christianity and the intertwining of national identity and athletic missionary work find their way into my conception of the Olympic Games as both spectacle and competition.
This year, perhaps because of the united front of North and South Korean athletes and the neutral participation of the Olympian Athletes from Russia, I wondered if the excitement was generated by the manifestation of peace.
Every four years, we witness the unification of countries. Albeit, they compete against one another, but there is such a show of equality: a feeling that this might be what peace between all nations would look like.
In the midst of continual international conflict and increasing domestic violence, this manifestation of peace is precisely what we need. A chance to visualize hope. A chance to dream of the silver lining. A chance to live out the purpose of the Olympic Games.
Heather Bozant Witcher can be reached at email@example.com.