The Olympics are still amazing

On the eve of the end of the Tokyo Olympic games, it’s worth reflecting back on the past two weeks. This Olympics has been strange for sure. After being delayed a year because of COVID-19, the games went on in spite of the on-going pandemic and worries about the ability for the athletes to compete safely. There were a handful of stories in the week before about people testing positive and being ruled out, which raised the uncertainty level.

Even through all of that, there have been some pretty amazing and inspiring stories. Watching Allyson Felix win gold in the Women’s 4x400m relay after having a baby puts new perspective on perseverance when many people would have quit. Seeing sportsmanship exhibited by Isaiah Jewett and Nigel Amos after an accidental crash reminds us that people are more important than winning. The mental health conversation around Simone Biles’ case of the “twisties” helped us all learn that the athletes are not just medal-winning robots. These are all lessons that will stay with us long after the lights go out tomorrow.

For my kids, this will be one of their earliest Olympic Games they will remember. It expands their horizons in so many ways. The opening ceremony exposed them to so many countries they had never heard of. There have been many conversations about sports they had never seen before, like handball, rock climbing, and shot put. They have learned to enjoy watching things that even I don’t like, like triathlon and rhythmic gymnastics. It even inspired my youngest to switch from dance to soccer this fall. Will it stick? Who knows, but it will be interesting to try.

There was some conversation on if the Olympics should continue over the past couple of weeks. Maybe, in this modern world, they’re too old-fashioned. Maybe the pandemic would claim one more institution after all. Maybe it’s not worth the cost anymore. These stories are the true value. The camaraderie, sportsmanship, and, yes, even the rivalries, show us that we can all get along just a little bit and treat each other as equals. It inspires us to try new things, watch unusual sports, and learn about new places. Most of all, it brings the whole world together. If that’s not worth the cost, I don’t know what is.

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