A lovely summer virus has netted me two and a half days of lying in a prone position either in my bed or the loveseat, isolated from family, friends, and mostly, the Internet. That brings with it two plusses: one, I’ve watched more than the normal share of daytime live Olympics coverage on NBC’s five channels, and two, I haven’t had to worry about the results being revealed to me, as ESPN, Yahoo, FOX, and some of my more annoying friends on Facebook have been “scooping” results before most of the U.S. has seen them on television. (Seriously, why are you congratulating Michael Phelps on Facebook when a) you don’t know him and b) all of your friends won’t see it until primetime? But I digress.)
Did anyone really expect that Honduras would knock Spain, this year’s World Cup champions, out of the Olympics in the qualifying round? Did anyone think that in events where they both competed, that neither Ryan Lochte nor Michael Phelps would win? Did anyone know (outside of the equestrian world) that the competition could be so dangerous, or that riders would be outfitted with inflatable vests? Did anyone register that the youngest competitor in skeet, from the U.S., would be so dominant? Did anyone think Jordyn Wieber wouldn’t make the individual final in gymnastics? (Just for the record, I refrained from mentioning any of the topics you might not have heard about today.)
It’s hard for me to not watch the Olympics, whether it’s in NBC’s primetime package which holds off on showing such luminaries as swimming’s Missy Franklin, Allison Schmitt, Lochte, and Phelps, and gymnastics’ Danell Leyva and Jonathon Horton, or at three o’clock in the morning when qualifying rounds hold the utmost hope for the most unlikely of participants. And when those unlikely characters actually win, wow, that’s magical.
I like storylines where even the best aren’t infallible. As I write this, the U.S. actually trails Tunisia, the worst team in the men’s basketball portion of the Olympics. I like Rogers and Dalhausser having to struggle a bit to get by Spain. When gymnastics doesn’t work out the way it appeared on paper for the U.S. but the Brits win a medal in the men’s rhythmic category for the first time in years, that’s the stuff that dreams are made of. If everything was going to go the way we expected, what would be the point of playing?
Speaking of which, my life hasn’t exactly worked out the way it was “supposed to” the last two weeks. Sickness derailed plans, calls for visitation came up. But at the end of the day, I recognize that what we’re called to do is live our best and do our best, and appreciate it as it comes. The Olympics is all about striving for our best, and learning to live with the results with grace and humility, whether we’re winning or losing. The best Olympians are those who learn to live with those differences and challenge us to do the same.