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Olympics Edition Post

February 23, 2010

I love the Olympics. I love parking myself in front of the TV and watching the Summer and Winter Games (I guess that’s what separates me from the athletes; I’m a couch potato, and they’re out working their butts off). I’m a huge sports fan in general, and I love watching sports like diving and ski jumping that are only widely available to watch during the Olympics (unless, of course, you have the ultimate sports cable TV package).

The Olympics brings out the best in athletes, I think. There’s a certain thrill to competing not as part of a money-hungry professional sports league (like the NHL), but as a representative of your entire country. And the Olympics are a time when it doesn’t matter if you’re a Detroit Red Wings fan or a Los Angeles Kings fan: we can come together and be fans of Team USA.

It’s sentimental, I know, but I enjoy the notion that the Olympics can be a time of peace, goodwill, and harmony between nations. I believe that sports can transcend political divisions, although I’ve obviously been proven wrong multiple times in past Olympics (see: 1980 Moscow Games boycott and 1984 Los Angeles Games boycott).

So, I am obviously quite dismayed at some of the reactions from ice dance competitors in response to the results of the ice dance competition. Last night a Canadian pair won the gold and an American pair won the silver. This was only the third time since ice dance became an Olympic sport in 1976 that a Russian of Soviet couple has not won the gold. The U.S. also had back-to-back ice dance medals for the first time, and this 1-2 showing by Canada and the U.S. marked a turning point in ice dance competition. North America showed it was ready for the ice dance world stage.

What should have been a time for joyous celebration for Canada instead turned sour with accusations from other teams of a home-court bias from the judges. Athletes should be gracious whether they make it to the podium or not.

When I was participating in athletics at George School, we were taught to nurture healthy competition and good sportsmanship. All athletes, no matter what their level of play or the outcome of the game deserved respect. We were taught that it was ok to want to win and to want to do well, but we shouldn’t sacrifice common decency and mutual respect. It made us not only better athletes, but better people in the long run.

I know that competing at the Olympics is a definitely a high-stress moment for athletes: who doesn’t dream of Olympic gold? But to lose common decency and respect for fellow athletes is, in my opinion, disrespectful of your sport and disrespectful of the Olympic spirit.

I think if all athletes kept in mind those guiding principles like I was taught at George School, the Olympics of my dreams could become the Olympics of reality.

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