Losing the Olympic Spirit

When I was a boy, the Olympics were just beginning to be broadcast on television and they were a BIG deal.

I would sit with my mom and little brother in front of the television in the evening and watch the world’s greatest athletes compete. Mom, God rest her soul, saw the games as not only an athletic competition but the confrontation of good and evil. The big moment of the day was on the late news when they gave the medal count for the day, and we prayed for the United States to have the most.

The Americans were the good guys and the Soviets and their pawns in Eastern Europe were the bad guys. The atmosphere in our living room was a little like the Rocky movies where the hardworking American overcomes the evil product of the Soviet system and anyone watching (at least in the United States) feels proud to be an American.

Thanks to the American Olympic kneelers, complainers, and WOKE campaigners, my enthusiasm for the games has dimmed. In fact, it has nearly disappeared.

Maybe I owe these spoiled snowflakes a debt of gratitude. In my boyhood days – and until recently – I would get rather nervous watching the games. If the US basketball team was behind, I would get nervous. If the US runners had fewer medals than the Cubans, I would be upset.

That has changed. If the US soccer players decide the Olympics are the place to protest the imperfections of their country, why should I lose sleep over whether they win or lose? If US basketball players are too busy promoting shoe sales in China to attend the games, why should I be concerned with their welfare?

I loved sports as a kid. I wasn’t especially strong, fast, or talented and certainly never had the ability to compete at a high level. The thought of competing in the Olympics was too far beyond me to even be a dream.

As a result, I expect anyone who is able to represent their country in the Olympics to be grateful. That is especially true for Americans, who enjoy greater freedom and opportunity than anyone else in the world.

The Olympics are a time to say, “thank you” rather than “America stinks.”

Of course, the rotten apples in America’s Olympic barrel are the minority.  Most of our competitors are grateful to participate.  Some are patriotic and many are wonderful role models.  For them, I still feel that patriotic urge. We produce some of the greatest human beings on earth.

The rotten apples need to remember that because of America, they can choose to make fools of themselves on the world stage. They can kneel during our anthem, give critical media interviews, and make insensitive comments on social media.

That is a privilege few of their competitors from around the world enjoy. I pray our athletes develop the wisdom to know when and how to best use that freedom.