Olympics Withdrawal and the Agony

OlympicsI must confess–I’m in withdrawal . . . from the Olympics. I become completely immersed in the hope that the Olympics represent and generate. So much so that when I was in high school, I did a report on Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympiad because I admired his philosophy when it came to sport:

The important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle, the essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.

While NBC insisted on packaging so many of the events to feature the American athletes, many in their moments of expected or anticipated triumph, I missed the lesser important events with the unknown men and women whose stories of bravery and perseverance brought them to the international stage.

Fortunately, the cameras caught a few of those moments. The collision of the American and New Zealand women during the 5,000 meter race, the one lifting the other up and finishing the race. The 41-year-old gymnast who was the team representing Uzbekistan. The entire refugee team competing under the Olympic flag.

While I applauded Michael Phelps, Katie Ledecky, and the Final Five, I missed the “agony of defeat” as ABC’s “Wide World of Sports” used to say in its show’s introduction.

During Sunday’s homily, our pastor reminded us that “agony” in Greek also means “strive.” It’s that sense of the word that seemed appropriate these last two weeks. The striving, the struggling to be a little faster, a little farther, a little stronger. I hope that that is the lesson that so many of us and our young people take home from these Olympic games.


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