Tuesday, August 09, 2016

The Games People Play

I know I should care more. It's an event, after all. It's an event that only happens every four years. Maybe it's because of all the katzenjammer antics going on in the other leap year associated event, the U.S. presidential election, but the Summer Olympic games  I have been able to keep up with all the fuss and drama leading up to the less-than-adequate housing for the athletes who have trained all their lives for this one moment in the sun. And the filth. Sadly, this portion of the coverage dovetails well with the rest of the summer's world news. Broken pipes and bad electrical somehow makes sense in a world full of things that are falling apart. Why not just build things that way, even if those things happen to be your Olympic Village?
Now the competition has begun. There will be cycling and swimming and running and jumping and gymnastics and basketball and tennis and karate and swimming and more running and jumping. The National Broadcasting Company will be using its pervasive network of channels to bring a seemingly unending blizzard of televised events, including fencing and equestrian events. My wife, at some point, will wonder aloud how she managed to miss all that coverage of her favorite parts of the Olympiad.
My favorite part? The marathon. Once upon a long time ago, there was this guy named Frank Shorter, and forty-four years ago he won that race. He won a gold medal. He was a resident of Boulder, Colorado at that time. We, who lived in his adopted hometown, watched in 1972 as Frank ran to glory. And he brought the sport of running to Boulder. It was not long after that moment of Olympic success that it seemed like everyone from the foothills to the flatlands was running. I was one of them.
I ran around Boulder while another summer games came and went. And another. Then I moved out to California, where I kept running while another series of Olympic events were staged in nations and on TV screens that never quite caught my attention like those '72 Munich games. This probably had a lot to do with the way international terrorism reared its ugly head in the midst of all that sports. Since then,  everyone has hoped that there would not be a repeat of such a scene. And there was, of sorts, in 1996 when a bomb went off in Atlanta's Olympic Village. Where my older brother was part of a multi-national security force. And for a while, I stopped running. Long enough to make sure that he was okay.
That was twenty years ago, and there has been a lot of running and jumping since then. A lot of gold medals have been handed out. I have missed a lot of televised running, jumping and medals. But I kept on running. I know I should care more, but some of the joy of competition has been drained from the experience over the past forty-four years.
And I keep running.

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