Today is Sunday and this is when I seem to have developed the habit of posting my thoughts on the subject of sports which is a bit unusual in that I'm not a sports enthusiast by any stretch of the imagination. In other words, I'm blogging about something I know precious little about.
Or to put it another way, it's just another day of the week here at I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You.
But I do want to be serious a moment about something I posted earlier this week. Looking ahead to future posts on this blog, I noted the following:
Sunday: This (Non) Sporting Life#7 as we take stock of the 2014 Winter Olympics so far and decide that no, I do not give a damn.
Here's the thing: I take issue with my statement that "I do not give a damn". It's not to say I've had a change of heart about the Winter Olympics. I'm sorry but I just have not been able to work up much enthusiasm for the Winter Games in Sochi. But that's on me. If watching skiing and bobsledding and curling and what all do not appeal to me, that's OK, that's my personal taste. But to say "I do not give a damn" lends a certain antagonistic tone to the proceedings that seems most unwarranted.
If I subjectively do not see the appeal of the Winter Olympics, I do objectively understand the levels of talent on display and the degrees of sacrifice needed to get this far. Nobody last month said, "Hey, I like to figure skate. I think'll head on over to Sochi and see if maybe I can pick up a medal or something." Nobody decided last year that maybe this was a goal for them. No, chances are if you are representing your nation in a particular sport at this level, this is something you've been preparing your entire life for. Maybe somebody put some skates on your tiny feet at 3 years old and you managed not to fall down and a decision was made that maybe you might be good at skating. By 5 years old, you've set your sights on the Olympics.
So there's not just a innate talent or skill at play here but a mental toughness that comes from forgoing some if not all of the innocence of youth to pursue an ambition that may not come to fruition. A lot of sweat and sacrifice are expended just to maybe get a chance to maybe get a shot at maybe qualifying for the opportunity to maybe go to the Olympics. And maybe win a medal, maybe win a gold medal.
Oh the pressure these men and women are under in these games. Because anything short of a gold medal is not success. Which is about as wrong a perspective as possible. Imagine this: you're a bronze medal winner and there are billions of people who can't do what you do. At all. There are maybe a few thousand who can do what you do but not as expertly as you. Yet the press will say that you "settled for the bronze".
"Settled"? Being the third best person at what you do in the entire Earth is "settling"?
I heard this somewhere once....I don't recall where so I can't cite the source...that the happiest person on the medal podium at the Olympics is the bronze medal winner. Why?
- The gold medal winner has to deal with inflated expectations. And what can you do for an encore? Win another gold medal? Anything less is a let down.
- The silver medal winner is thinking how close he or she came to winning the gold, frustrated over being considered second best when but for a difference of a split-second or a quarter of an inch, they would've been considered the best in the world.
- Meanwhile, the bronze medal winner is realizing how close they could've come to not winning any medal at all.
The thing is just even being at the Olympics is to be part of a rarefied group. So while I may not necessarily be interested in the Olympic games personally, I do recognize that strength and spirit it takes to get there.
So kudos to all the athletes who make it there. Medal or no medal, you have proven yourself strong and gifted in a manner few of us can ever dream to match.