What’s Important About the Olympics

This is the first year I have had second thoughts about watching the Olympics. Every other time the Games roll around, I can’t wait to curl up in front of the TV and alternately hold my breath or breathe right along with the athletes. This season, I heard too many stories about doping, or athletes that participated at the risk of their health or competed more out of obligation than burning desire.

So this year I decided to opt out of the games, until I picked up the Parade section of the Los Angeles Times this past Sunday morning. Sports columnist and author of “Tuesdays With Morrie,” Mitch Albom, wrote about past Olympic athletes. Here’s Albon’s account of one story from the Barcelona Olympic Stadium:

“A British sprinter named Derek Redmond pulled a hamstring midway through a 400-meter heat. He fell to the track as if he’d been shot. His Olympics were over. 

“But his moment had just begun.

“As Derek waved off the medics and tried to hop to the finish, his father, Jim Redmond, a heavyset machine-shop owner, burst from the stands and ran onto the track. He somehow reached his son, who buried his head in his father’s shoulder to hide his tears. Then the two of them, the father, supporting the son. inched their way to the finish line so that Derek could say he finished the race. The crowd rose for the slow-hobbling men and roared as loudly as it would for any champion.”

As I sat there, crying into my cereal bowl, I remembered why I watch the Olympics. I want to be inspired, to be reminded that I share something with these athletes, that we are a community, that we all have a story, and we all want to be reminded of our own potential.