I tried to watch The Winter Olympic Games in Sochi from start to finish. I tried. And then I stopped trying. I realized the Olympics was never again going to be that magical, fascinating, heartstopping or heartbreaking competition of top athletes for me again. I’ve grown too old to not see the ugly politics, the biased judging, the crappy broadcasters, the greedy network.
Even as a kid I knew there were political tensions surrounding the Olympics and cheating amongst the judged sports. But, that idealistic kid could somehow keep overlooking it, hoping for it to change, waiting for the world to change. That kid who loved to watch Bud Greenspan’s documentaries about The Games, who loved to see and find out more about other people and other countries is gone. Well, I still can and do learn about other places in the world, just not through the world of sports.
Maybe my disillusionment is magnified by the fact that my favorite Olympic sports—gymnastics and figure skating—are judged sports. No matter how many rules they put in place to keep subjectivity out of these sports, somehow, it’s still always there. Or maybe it’s me paying for basic tier cable that includes the NBC network, a network that is over the air, by the way, and still not being able to access the programming on mobile apps or computer streams. Maybe it’s the difficulty of seeing these sports on network television when it isn’t an Olympics year. Or the general over-hyping of athletes and the inevitable pressure that causes them to break in the end. It makes those who rise above even more incredible.
No doubt, there were some beautiful moments at the Sochi Games. I finally got to see an American ice dancing couple—who deserved it—win a gold medal. I got to see Kim Yu Na back and skating fabulously. Summer Olympics track star Lauryn Williams won a silver medal in bobsled. How incredible is that to win a medal in the Winter and the Summer Games.?! And how fun was Sage Kostenburg? That’s the best thing that still can be found every four years—athletes who embrace the pure joy of just taking part by doing the sport they love. My shining Olympics moment was living in Atlanta during the 1996 games and actually being able to attend them. Seeing my cousin perform in the Opening Ceremonies. That was special.
So as I let the Closing Ceremonies play in the background while waiting to watch Downton Abbey, I’m saying goodbye to the me that was the Olympics nerd. I’ll never be that wide-eyed and passionate about the Olympic Games again. I’ll remember her and those special Olympics past fondly.