02/17/06 — Olympic mold? Are we maybe just a little too used to seeing gold?

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Olympic mold? Are we maybe just a little too used to seeing gold?

OK, so maybe the Olympics haven’t been all they have been hyped up to be this year. Maybe there are more than a few sports where the favored Americans have turned in performances that were a little less than stellar and not even close to medal contention.

And there have even been a couple times when the results of a contest or two were just downright embarrassing.

But should they have been?

Perhaps the reason so few Americans are turning to the Winter Olympic Games this year — “American Idol” beat the telecast in the ratings one night — is that we are simply too used to being the ones who win.

Maybe in our zeal to claim that we understand the Olympic spirit, we have really forgotten what the Games are supposed to be all about in the first place.

Americans are competitive — that’s why NBC shows us the medal count each evening. We want to see how we stack up in the rankings, and who is ahead and behind us in the number of medals they are bringing home.

So, rather than applauding the effort of the downhillers or watching how close our luge team and speed skaters came to major victories, we are more concerned about the promises of victory that turned into missed medals.

So we turn the channel and miss the point.

We forget that there are years of work behind getting to the Olympics and that to make a final is an achievement. We forget that it is the randomness of sports that makes them so special. We shouldn’t know who is going to walk away with a medal before the events even start. There always should be an X-factor that means that it could be anyone’s day.

We should not grumble about a young downhiller who missed her chance at a medal she was favored to win. We should be proud that young Lindsey Kildow decided no hospital bed was going to keep her from competing — even after a training run crash that could have taken her life. Or, maybe we should celebrate a pairs figure skating team who landed the first-ever throw triple Axel in competition, but wasn’t favored to place in the top spots. That is the American spirit and the Olympic spirit personified — giving it your best even when the odds are against you.

Maybe those should be the medals Americans should be proud to take away from this year’s Olympics.

Published in Editorials on February 17, 2006 10:04 AM