It’s not that I watched every minute of the coverage. Shoot, I even missed some of the events I really wanted to see. But it was just good to know I could check in throughout the day, or even have the games running in the background.
And now the that Olympics are over many of us are feeling that post Olympic depression.
So what is it about the Olympics that captivate us to the point where we miss them when they’re gone?
- Is it the guys like Oscar Pistorius, the South African who made it to the semi-finals of the 400M as a double amputee?
- Or perhaps you like the story of Sherab Zam the Bhutanese archer, yes, Bhutan is a country, who was just happy to be competing as one of the two Olympians from her country?
- Maybe you’re more a fan of the history makers like Phelps or Bolt.
I love it all. While I also have to confess I feel a similar sense of loss at the end of the World Cup every four years…it isn’t exactly the same. So what can we learn from our post Olympic depression? I’d like to share three lessons.
1. We like friendly competition.
There is a different spirit in Olympic competition, a sense from the athletes that this is one big friendly stage. Sure there are rivalries, even intense ones, but the sheer number of smiles, handshakes, and high fives that happen between medalists and non-medalists is, I think, unique to the Olympics.
There is a joy in this competition that goes beyond monetary value. Sure there are competitors there who are looking to gain recognition that turns into endorsements, some that even admit that, but those examples are overwhelmed by the number of athletes thrilled to be there representing their countries.
Even if we don’t always agree with the rules, there ARE rules and a world stage upon which they are, typically, equitably applied. Not just within the competitions themselves but rules regarding who can compete. There seems to be a sense of something bigger there.
Of course the antithesis of this is political campaigning…maybe that’s why we dislike election commercials so much?
2. We get a bigger world view
Now be honest how many of us even knew Bhutan was a country? How many of us knew that they were listed by the UN as the happiest nation on earth, so much so that the UK, France, and the US are studying them as a nation?
The Olympics give us a chance to look at the people of the world as people, not as political allies or enemies. We recognize effort and excellence beyond economic or socio-political borders. Do I still find myself lugging around an old bias, hoping the US beats the Russians? Sure I do. But if the Russians put in a good effort and beat us I’m cool with that too.
The window of the Olympics allows us to look at the world through a different lens, perhaps a more relevant one, certainly a friendlier one.
3. We like the emotion of it.
I’m convinced that part of the allure of the games is the emotion that goes into four years, if not a lifetime, of effort compressed into a few moments of intense competition. This isn’t one of 162 baseball games in a season or one of 16 football games. For many of these athletes it is their one shot. The ups the emotional ante HUGELY.
Most days we don’t tap into our world at that level of emotion. We’re just trying to keep our noses above water and keep things on an even keel. The Olympics become emotionally cathartic as we share in the feelings of agony or ecstasy with the athletes.
So what if our regular lives were more like that?
What is we looked to make an competitive situation a friendly competition? What if we made time to regularly broaden our world view? What if we allowed ourselves to feel emotion more deeply more regularly and still had to pick ourselves up off the track for the post event interview? What if our “goal” wasn’t just “winning” but was, instead, competing with honor, side by side with people of different backgrounds, in the spirit of friendship?
Maybe life would be a little more like the Olympics and we’d all be a little less depressed when the games themselves are over.
What was your favorite Olympic moment from London 2012?