No Violence, No Deaths, No Controversy: Eighteen days ago, most of us would have been very surprised to have witnessed what transpired in Rio de Janeiro during the course of these Olympic Games. All we heard about in the months prior to the Olympics were horror stories of polluted waters, security fears, public health disasters and unfinished venues. There was little publicity about the actual competitors, who the favorites were and what athletic story lines we should be paying attention to. In retrospect, it was all overblown, the negativity in our culture overshadowing the promise and optimism of a compelling and captivating event.
As I watched a stadium packed with the host country's fans cheering their soccer team on to victory in penalty kicks over Germany, I couldn't imagine a more fitting finale to a truly great Olympics. From the stunning topography to the scintillating action, I've been riveted for the last two weeks to any broadcast coverage I could find. Perhaps it's been about the domination of the U.S. delegation, racking up a total of 116 medals at this writing, ensured to put at least one more on the board when the men's basketball team wraps up competition in the gold medal game. Or maybe it's just the sheer expanse of competition, from high profile sports like swimming, gymnastics and athletics to lesser known endeavors like fencing, badminton or kayaking.
The sheer determination of the athletes to train and compete for a once every four years' shot at glory should be inspiring, prompting positive reaction and a call to devote ourselves to something more than sitting on our tails and taking pot shots at things that we don't agree with. My opinion is that if one hasn't been in another person's position, then it's virtually impossible to have a worthwhile perspective of their reaction. To criticize Michael Phelps for his boisterous celebration at winning yet another gold medal, or Lilly King for wagging her finger in response to another swimmer, or Usain Bolt for looking at the camera on his way to victory, or anyone for their reaction on the medal stand, is ludicrous. I say go out and win yourself a gold medal, then you earn an opinion. Otherwise, shut up and do something useful with your life.
Prior to the start of these Games, I was totally committed to boycotting, much like the U.S. did in 1980, prompting the Eastern Bloc to reciprocate in 1984. But I decided to give them a look, and I'm certainly pleased that I did. By tuning in, I was treated to Katy Ledecky, Michael Phelps, Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, Usain Bolt and a hundred other terrific stories. But the biggest lesson I learned was that the story is not the IOC, the venue, controversy surrounding the choice of the host city or anything else not directly associated with the competition, No, the real story is the about competitors, who seemingly rise above all else when it comes time to perform to the best of their abilities. And that's what I'll take from these Games, the positive outlook of the athletes, not the negativity of those that choose to stay on the sidelines.
Don't forget to check out my new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" and my first two, "Illegal Procedure - A PK Frazier Novel" and "Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel", available in print and e-formats at Amazon.com, iBooks and Smashwords. Tune into www.WPFLRADIO.com at 8:40 am EST every Friday for my Beyond the Commentary segment on "Lou in the Morning" with Lou Vickery and Jonathan McMath.