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Glued to the Games

By Chris Pelicano (bio - articles - email) | Aug 05, 2012

I have never been accused of being an avid sports fan, but I always enjoy watching the Olympic Games. The breadth of ordinary humanity engaged in such an extraordinarily wide range of athletic endeavors at such high levels of performance is truly amazing.

Also amazing, and just as appreciated, is watching honest competition—for the most part. Clear winners and losers, accurate accounting, adherence to the rules, and sportsmanlike conduct as the norm, rather than the exception, are a welcome contrast to so much about our culture today.

Personal accountability and responsibility are on display in such a large and refreshing way. Outcomes are ultimately determined not by policy or mandate, but by each athlete's individual effort. This is all the more poignant given that for most athletes, the path to the Olympic Games is full of difficulties, obstacles, sacrifices, hardships, failures, injuries and countless setbacks— which they regard not with regret or complaint, but with gratitude. They know first hand that iron, bronze, silver, and gold are truly forged in the fire of adversity. They have the courage to accept that as the truth.

The Olympic Games remind us all that humanity advances along the path of personal responsibility and honest accountability. Fairness is measured not in equal outcomes but in fair play—universal adherence to the rules of the game. Graciousness is obligatory for all participants—regardless of when (or if) they cross the finish line—because sport really is "only a game." The real contest is not losing one's humanity.

Now, if only the media commentators and interviewers would step back a bit and let these profound human realities of the Olympic Games speak for themselves...

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