A childhood tradition in my household, every few years my family would watch the games, cheer our momentary heroes, and take a break from “normal life” to indulge our international athletic excitement. We weren’t–and aren’t–practitioners in almost any of these sports. We never watch most of them outside of a few weeks in the summer or winter every couple of years. But when we do watch, it’s a lot of fun.
Established in ancient times and revived in the modern world, the Olympics represent, at their best, the peak of human achievement. A time when we all get together as a human race–made in the image of God–to show each other what we are able to do. The limits of endurance. The height of skill. The gifts of a lifetime of hard work. There’s almost a Renaissance quality to it.
And then of course there’s the chance to cheer, whether it be for the greatest athlete in his or her sport, the underdog, the national hero, the ancestral homeland, or the inspirational story of the day. It gets exciting.
I know there are problems with this Olympics, and that is unfortunate. Russia is not exactly a paragon of democracy and good governance. Its preparations and readiness for these Games have been panned. Questions persist about its commitment to–or violation of–some basic rights. So please understand I’m not endorsing the dark side of things here.
But please also know that I think the spirit of the Olympic games and the joy and wonder they’ve brought me continue on. I hope that you too can embrace them during this season, taking in the cultures, stories, exotic sports, and–dare I say it–even a little bit of international understanding these few weeks can provide. At least, that’s one of the things I’d like to see.