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What Is the Significance of the Olympics?

What Is the Significance of the Olympics?

With the kick-off of the Olympics this weekend, there have been dramatically varying reactions to the significance of the games and, in particular, how that relates to culture and politics in the United States.

One typical reaction to the Olympics is the blindly patriotic one. Many Americans have a tendency to view the Olympics as a stage for the United State to boast its supposed superiority. Of course, this is a very narrow way to view both the games and the place of the United States in the global community.

On the other hand, many Americans reject the games outright because they do not support many of the policies of the United States. They feel that the games promote nationalism and that to care about the Olympics is to demonstrate support for policies with which they disagree.

I fall somewhere in the middle. I enjoy the games as a demonstration of human accomplishment. As a nation, we should absolutely be proud of our athletes – not because they are American, but because they have worked hard to accomplish great things. To me, the Olympics are not about what country walks away with the most medals. The Olympics are a manifestation of the strength of the human spirit.

 

 

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Sarah Cooke

Sarah Cooke is a writer living in California. She is interested in organic food and green living. Sarah holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Naropa University, an M.A. in Humanities from NYU, and a B.A. in Political Science from Loyola Marymount University. She has written for a number of publications, and she studied Pastry Arts at the Institute for Culinary Education. Her interests include running, yoga, baking, and poetry. Read more on her blog.

52 comments

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6:53PM PDT on Aug 7, 2012

I am somewhere in the middle, as well. I don't have that overwhelming patriotism that some people feel, and appreciate a good performance more than the athlete's country of origin, though there is still a nice feeling when an American wins, for some reason.

7:55AM PDT on Aug 4, 2012

Good to get the world together but pity about the debt!

11:05PM PDT on Aug 2, 2012

It's interesting to read all the comments on the Olympics. I enjoy watching most of the sports because the participants are the best in their countries. I love theopening ceremony showing all the interesting national costumes from all countries. London 2012's opening was very memorable for me because of their showing of the cultural stories of their history. Th British are recognised as the most professional in choreography and excellent timing of event planning.

Also, I do agree with one other person who was critical about how (also how loudly) the Olympics are delvered in USA and Canadian TV. It's unsportsmanlike to portray an intenational event as if your country's participants are the only ones of any value. By comparison, one of my country's participants was interviewed and quietly spoke about being "humbled by being chosen to represent his country."

Many years ago, I can remember watching the Olympics from the other end of the world and being given a completely wrong impression about the make-up of the USA population. It was confusing, I was given the impresson that 80% of the USA population was Black. But then they often are tops and dominate in many types of sports....

11:05PM PDT on Aug 2, 2012

It's interesting to read all the comments on the Olympics. I enjoy watching most of the sports because the participants are the best in their countries. I love theopening ceremony showing all the interesting national costumes from all countries. London 2012's opening was very memorable for me because of their showing of the cultural stories of their history. Th British are recognised as the most professional in choreography and excellent timing of event planning.

Also, I do agree with one other person who was critical about how (also how loudly) the Olympics are delvered in USA and Canadian TV. It's unsportsmanlike to portray an intenational event as if your country's participants are the only ones of any value. By comparison, one of my country's participants was interviewed and quietly spoke about being "humbled by being chosen to represent his country."

Many years ago, I can remember watching the Olympics from the other end of the world and being given a completely wrong impression about the make-up of the USA population. It was confusing, I was given the impresson that 80% of the USA population was Black. But then they often are tops and dominate in many types of sports....

7:56AM PDT on Aug 1, 2012

Perhaps the Olympics should be scaled down a bit. Many cities that host the Olympics go into debt to build the necessary structures, and it's so stressful for the residents. Downsizing could eliminate some of the corporate sponsorship, too. My pet peeve is watching ice skating and seeing those logos on the rink- that really interferes with watching the performance.

7:49AM PDT on Aug 1, 2012

Fun is being made that the US will hand its gold medals to China to help pay off our debt. It just seems like a big dog and pony show to me anymore. Vendor are all bitching because the monies they invisioned isn't pouring in by the buckets. Stadium complaining to may seats stand unoccupied but I thought they we're mostly sold to the privileged and why they're a no-show who knows. Yatching season?? Bickering, backbiting, orgies, drug use accusations. Sounds more like a soap opera. Stadium workers living in squalor. I'm better than you nana nana booboo.

4:54AM PDT on Aug 1, 2012

Thanks for the article. For me the Olympics is (or should be) about true sportsmanship and personal striving for excellence, transcending all other divisions.

4:26AM PDT on Aug 1, 2012

Love the Olympics and everyone seems to be having so much fun, even the athletes. BBC have made it possible for you to choose which sport you want to watch which makes it much better. London has concentrated on youngsters and the facilities that will benefit them when the olympics are over. It's not a waste of money as the facilities will be used for years for future generations. The Olympic park will be converted to living accomodation for people in London. I do though feel very uncomfortable with some of the USA athletes and officlas as they seem to think they are the worlds finest and if someone breaks a record they accuse them of drug taking! The Cinese girl has not taken drugs as this has been proven, so USA please understand that you are not always the best.

12:40AM PDT on Aug 1, 2012

How exactly does ruthless competition, conspicuous separation between losers and winners help to bring people together and for what benefit is that to the human spirit? No, the games have always been games, i.e. entertainment. They bear almost no relation to real human life. The world will continue to be the same after the Olympics are over, not better. The Olympics can't stop the war in Syria, can't solve the problem of hunger and poverty in Africa, and they certainly won't solve the economic crisis either...

7:54PM PDT on Jul 31, 2012

Olympics for me is the harmonization between peoples. It is a way to show that this is possible and depends only on the goodwill of men.

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