The 2016 Rio Olympics are now upon us and there is really only one thing on our sporting minds today. It’s not those awful pictures of the water filled with sewage, nor the rampant doping. It’s not the Zika virus, nor is it the transportation or security issues. Truth be told, it’s not even the opening ceremony which, I might add, is supposed to be the sexiest one in history. The one thing that is on everyone’s mind is… woohoo Aaron Sanchez is staying in the Blue Jays rotation for now and I don’t care if it’s because of a 6-man rotation! I know, I know it has nothing to do with the Olympics, but come on, that really is what everyone is talking about right now isn’t it?
I have been trying this week to wrap my head around why I haven’t been excited about these Olympics. At first I thought it was my disgust at the International Olympic Committee. I mean, this greedy, self-serving, arrogant, loathsome, spineless (hmm did I forget anything?) disgusting, poor excuse for an organization could easily turn me off sports altogether. But that can’t be the reason I surmised because FIFA is every bit as greedy, self-serving, arrogant…you get the picture, as the IOC is but I drool with anticipation and excitement every 4 years when there is a World Cup.
— Rob Harris (@RobHarris) August 4, 2016
So rather than wondering why I wasn’t excited, I tried to pinpoint what feeling took its place. To my surprise, I found out it was fear. And it wasn’t just one thing I was afraid of, there was plenty. Yes I am afraid that some of these athletes, who are striving to find the greatest moment of their life, will in turn find only the worst. I am afraid I will hear stories of athletes, families and yes, even the media becoming ill. I fear what may happen if the police and security surrounding the games are filled by corrupt people and I fear that the beautiful culture and country that is Brazil may not financially overcome hosting these games. I don’t consider myself naïve so I realize that there has been fear leading up to every single Olympic games before. But hand in hand with that fear, or yin and yang if you prefer, there was also the excitement of what wonders lay just around the corner.
I used to be excited about the Olympics approaching, whether it was in anticipation of the hockey team’s during the winter Olympics or hoping to see a Ben Johnson or Donovan Bailey take over the world. There was always a story I couldn’t wait to see unfold or if there wasn’t, I was excited to find out what story might take a hold of me, shake me to the ground and make me cry with joy or sorrow. The women’s soccer team in London 2012 for example, took us all on a wild and crazy ride and with their surprise victory over 5th ranked Australia this week (fingers crossed, fingers crossed, fingers crossed) maybe there is more to come this year too.
Maybe it’s the women’s basketball team that will shine in Rio as they did during the Pan Am games or maybe, this year Canada takes the title of World’s Fastest Man away from Usain Bolt and puts it on 21 year-old Andre De Grasse. With the return of golf to the Olympics we might even get enraptured with Brooke Henderson who won a major this year at the tender age of 18. It may not even be a medal or athletic feat that gets our goosebumps going, but one of courage and inspiration. Think back to our very own Winter Olympics of 2010 and remember Joannie Rochette winning a bronze in figure skating. Rochette had a personal best score and that came shortly after hearing her mom had passed away. We all cried with her. There was Lawrence Lemieux, a Canadian sailor who was in position to easily qualify for the medal round in Seoul 1988 but halfway through the race deviated off course to rescue two sailors that had capsized. He finished 22nd that race.
Forget what I said. Forget about zika, the police. Forget about the <cough> sewage that is the IOC <cough> and forget about the dirty water and the doping. Push all that excrement aside and you will find that one story, that one athlete in these Olympics that will make you so proud to be Canadian. There are many things to fear in these Olympics, but I promise you, if you look for it, you will find that moment of excitement that has always made the Olympics as a whole, very, very special. Take the time and enjoy the next couple weeks.
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