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"Olympicture-Perfect"

I love the Olympics. How could anyone not?

I stayed home Friday with the usual tinge of sarcasm, this time directed towards the opening ceremonies in Atlanta. Years and years and months and months built up to Friday night. Unknown athletes devoted their lives to becoming the best athletes in the world, while I plodded around Dallas, goofed off around town, and typed on this useless keyboard. Atlanta became the center of attention, renovating its facilities to serve the world.

If I had hesitated to say, "The opening ceremonies are just like the Superbowl half-time show, only better," I wouldn't have looked so stupid. I saw the amazing costumes, kaleidoscopes of color, and was enraptured immediately. When the President cried and cheered, and the whole stadium contributed to the buzz with its flashlights, I was genuinely touched. I actually got that feeling that comes so rarely: the tingling sensation of taking part of something completely indescribable. Imagine that! The rare combination of sensual and emotional effects, Keats's "synaesthesia", from something that some people claim is a waste of time, the Olympics.

When the countries' athletes entered the stadium, I felt, for the time it took for everyone to enter, a feeling that there was peace in the world, that everyone was united and mankind stood tall. The societal problems and disasters like the TWA crash were forgotten for a brief moment, as we saw what a Utopia could be like. Ah, how sweet it was.

Of course, when the largest team, the U.S., entered the stadium, the crowd erupted in proud cheering, the American ego being treated to a five-Olympic-ring feast. Hey, I was cheering. I'm a patriotic, ignorant "Amewican" too.

The best part was not Muhammad Ali's lighting of the torch. However, it was interesting to see the man who was the most dignified and self- confident man of his time humbled by his own mortality. We must be reminded, as Horace has preached in his epicurean poems, that no one is immortal, no matter how proud he seems in his prime. Caesar was assassinated, the British lost their grip on the balls of the world, and Saturday Night Live lost its wit! What an apt way to link our century's mortality back to the times of Greek mortality by still celebrating the Olympics and choosing Ali to light the torch!

If you buy into the above paragraph, as I obviously do, then it can be inferred that although one man by himself is not immortal, his soul and spirit ARE. Why? Because our appreciation of the Olympics has survived through the ages and has not wavered. Men have died, civilizations have been forgotten, yet the Olympic spirit, our spirit, still remains.

So what of course was my favorite part of the opening ceremonies? It had to be the homage to the Greeks with the construction of Zeus's temple inside the stadium. A huge sheet was raised around a circle of towers, enveloping the large lamps inside, as well as my imagination. The silhouettes of the men inside were enlarged by the monstrous sheet, and the men took poses of the ancient Greek athletes. I got that strange tingling feeling again and I believed I was somehow connected to the Greek culture I so admire.

I love the Olympics. How could anyone not?

Now the summer events are starting and I am reminded of how I watched the swimming events in '88 and the gymnastics in '92. I didn't appreciate watching them then, but I certainly do now. And I will savor each moment even more, every four years in my long life. The U.S. might even win the medal count this year, sending over 600 athletes! Thanks to sponsorship and that American grit, our training programs are the best in the world.

Our athletes, as well as other countries' athletes, have a desire for something which, most often, gives them no recognition or money. They train for hours a day and surpass their thresholds for pain regularly. Can you honestly tell yourself that you have such dedication to the things you love, no strings attached?

Do what you love -- be who you really are.

So stop bitching about commercialism like it'll eventually drag our bodies from the Olympics (and the 'Net) like Achilles did to Hector. As bad as it could eventually become, it has helped those who never had a chance of becoming important reach the Olympics. Sponsorship gives them that one chance to prove to themselves that they are the best. How can you deny this to someone? That's the public school system's job. Heh.

And the commercials aren't even bad, folks. The Nike commercials illustrate the desire of the athletes and I'm waiting to see what happens to the Pretzel Boy, Jason Alexander. Jack in the Box has saved its reputation with a smart campaign. "I buy cheese." It's a great commecial if they can imply whatever that stuff is in a Jumbo Jack actually IS cheese.

So after all this, I don't really see how one can justify claims of the Olympics being fake or boring. Remember, it isn't just about sports and business, it's about mankind as well. This stuff goes much further than money and recognition. But why do I expect the media or uninformed individuals to understand this?

I love the Olympics. How could anyone not?


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