I saw a comment on Twitter a few nights ago pondering how much it would stink to finish last place in your 100m sprint heat and have your Olympics over in less than 15 seconds Seriously? Hey, I am painfully competitive person, but wouldn’t it be more awesome than stinky to even be an Olympic athlete? Sure, it would be uber awesome to win a medal or stand on the podium while your flag was being raised to the inspirational tune of your country’s national anthem, but just to compete on that stage rocks the true spirit of the Games.
We focus too much attention on the champions of the events and not enough attention on the competitors in the events. Sure, it doesn’t present the same televised drama to broadcast the Iranian shot putter throw ten feet shorter than the Polish, German and American medal winners. But, the very fact an Iranian shot putter is competing in London with athletes from all over the planet makes up for the mere 10-foot chasm of separation in distance of their throws.
The Olympic Games mean more than the three who stand on their elevated positions at the end of each event. The Games mean more than the accumulation of medals, endorsements and accolades. Sport itself means more than winning or losing. The Games, and sports in general, mean finding a commonality within framework of rules and arenas and crowds associated with the competition.
Common ground. The Iranian shot putter competes on the same field as shot putters from all over the world; he follows the same rules, and performs in front of the same crowd. He can talk with the other competitors in the language of the sport, communicate with a shared experience no language barrier, no politics, no economics, or religion can hinder.
Perhaps at the next world conference on the serious concerns of nuclear proliferation in Iran, they should bring the shot putters from the countries back together again to kick the meeting of in the proper spirit. Maybe, just maybe, something would get accomplished if we could start these things out with a healthy shot of the Olympic Spirit and perhaps make the world a little better place.