Author Ruth Smith Meyer

Ruth Smith Meyer Inspirational writer, speaker

Thinking out Loud on my Blog

Olympic Attitude Quandary

Posted by ruthsmithmeyer-com on March 1, 2010 at 9:54 AM

The Olympics of the past two weeks remind me of the proverbial elephant. That beast nosed into our living rooms and our lives with the Olympic Torch's journey across our fair land.  With the opening ceremony, the elephant took over the room and many hours of our lives.

We began to stay up way later than our bedtime  to cheer on our athletes, rejoicing when Canada made the podium.  Our routine started to center around the live broadcasts of the Olympic events.  Especially at first, with typical Canadian grace, we cheered for those who made gold, silver or bronze, no matter what nationality, and congratulated all those who gave it their best, felt sympathy with those who fell or were disqualified. We were awed by the tremedous dedication of those young people.  We applauded with extra exuberance if Canada did well and our pride in our country grew.  Having some people from our own community added to the sense of involvement, so when Drew Doughty was on with the Canadian Hockey team, and we heard the wonderful comments about his ability, we glowed with pride.  When Scott and Tessa were skating, we were all gung-ho, cheering and straining for the prize with them.

Gradually I felt a sense of disquiet.  I wondered what was happening to me.  As the weeks wore on, more and more, I found myself wanting gold for our country--or silver at the least.  By this last Saturday, the elephant was taking up most of the space in our lives and a certain discomfort began to assert itself even while I cheered on with each new gold or silver for Canada.  A real tug-of-war raged within me that I still can't completely understand.  

Part of me glories in the accomplishment of Canadian atheletes.  I am truly proud of the quality and the effort expended, but there is also a part of me that decries putting so much importance on a few winners.  Haven't all the athletes given their best?  Where not many "losers" very close to the time of the winners?  When I saw the disappointment on some faces even though they had done a good job and won silver, losing out on the gold by mere hudredths or thousandth of a second, I felt distressed that those atheletes couldn't feel good about their accomplishment.  When I saw gold winners come to congratulate their competitor just to have the silver medalsts turn their backs and walk the other direction, I grieved the lack of sportsmanship and quiestioned the effectiveness of what the Olympics were meant to accomplish. 

Then there is another side of the conflict within me.  Although I believe in exercising our bodies and perhaps pushing them to greater limits that we thought possible, I feel some hesitation when I see the skiers on a dangerous course that probably should have been shut down, careening down the hill and ending up being taken away on stretchers. Others coming down the mogul hill in spite of knee damage not fully healed or skating with injuries, continuing in spite of broken ribs and more, made me wonder how those people are going to feel, in thirty, forty or fifty years, about how they used their God-given bodies.  

So I am in a quandary.  The Olympics have come to a celebratory end and the elephant will retreat from the living room, but will its spirit and the moral predicament linger in my mind? 

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10:47 AM on March 1, 2010 
Dear Ruth,

What a thought provoking piece. I experienced the same emotions, especially yesterday when Team Canada won against the USA. My excitement matched that of my fellow Candadians, but twinges of discomfort took hold. I wondered what God thought of our behaviours, I wondered why the organizers have to arrange the final events on the Lord's day and I wondered how much it will all matter in the light of eternity?
Reply Glynis
10:57 AM on March 1, 2010 
Such a thoughtful, honest post. I totally understand your message here, Ruth. I had the brother of your elephant in my living room for the past two weeks. Yes, we do place so much emphasis on the gold, but there is much to be said about the diligence, perseverance, committment and focus of these young (and not so young) people who participated. To me they all won a 'golden heart medal' just for doing their best. When I see such crowds and celebration, I always wonder why we don't pour the same energy into celebrating Jesus. What a mighty party that would be! Actually, the real gold I am looking forward to seeing one day, is that gold path in the New Jerusalem! Good thoughts, Ruth.
Reply Carolyn Wilker
11:48 AM on March 1, 2010 
Interesting analogy of the Olympics as an elephant. Our television was also on, but not all the time. We, too, viewed the opening and closing ceremonies, celebrated Virtue and Moir, Rochette, but also recognized that those who did not place first, second or third, had worked very hard and had qualified to be there. I, too, was excited when Kim Un-Au took the gold for Korea, recognizing her grace on ice.
My blog post this weekend also addresses the Olympics. Hope you'll go there too.
Reply Sara
12:22 PM on March 1, 2010 
You expressed my sentiments to a T! I was happy for the gold, silver or bronze medal winners, but felt sorry for those who missed any color of medal by seconds! I felt they should have been recognized in some way! However, these are the 'ways of the world'! What more can we expect??
Reply Martha
10:10 AM on March 2, 2010 
We did not have the elephant in our room too much of the time. Halfway through the Olympics we traveled to Elkhart to help a friend get ready to move to a retirement home. Yes, I did occasionally stay up late to watch the athletes and I enjoyed it. I always wanted to be a figure skater so naturally I was intrigued by all who participated. I grieved with those who lost a fellow luger, and the one whose mother died unexpectedly, and I celebrated with all who won. These kinds of games do bring the world together in a wonderful way, and I believe a lot of ethnic barriers are broken down when people can become friends and a lot of that did happen..