In the spirit of the closing ceremonies – here are a few additional lessons learned, or at least reinforced thanks to the Olympics.
If there is one thing Vancouver 2010 taught us yet again, there is a huge value in just being nice. Seriously, who in the world does not like Canada? The Canadians are able to earn the respect of the world by just being nice. Not everything went exactly to plan, and yes there was even tragedy, but in the end being nice and trying tends to win over even the greatest skeptics.
To all who toil in relative obscurity, there is the U.S. Men’s Nordic Combined Team. After 86 years of being shut out, along comes an amazing series of medals in both the team and individual events. And a special nod to Billy Demong for his “hat trick” of a gold medal, an accepted marriage proposal and being chosen by his team to be the flag bearer for the closing ceremonies. All that work that no one sees does eventually pay-off. Sometimes, in a really big way, on a really big stage.
To Steve Holcomb and the U.S. 4 man bobsled team – another drought broken – only 62 years on this one. But in Steve Holcomb, a reminder to all that sometimes champions do come in the all too usual shapes and sizes. It is rare to see, but sometimes the best can really look like the guy down the street, belly and all. Never make a judgement on the competition, or anyone else, just based on looks.
The ability to compartmentalize and focus on the task at hand is just a part of life. In good times and bad, in adversity or elation, joy or anguish, there is a very real need to be able to push all other issues to the side and focus on what has to be done. Joanne Rochette showed amazing focus in the face of unimaginable loss. It was a powerful and harsh reminder that there are times when we must compartmentalize and push forward – for us and for those who are counting on us.
And lastly, to the Canadian Women’s Hockey Team – finally somebody just flat-out has fun after winning gold. Of course it is hockey, and it is Canada, but a post match celebration complete with Molson and cigars on the ice – well done. And to Steve Keough, the Canadian Olympic Committee spokesman and his comments about the teams post game fun: “In terms of the actual celebration,” he said, “it’s not exactly something uncommon in Canada.” Awesome! In our all too sterile and politically correct, hide our emotions and only have “fun” within the bounds of “proper decorum” world, it is so nice to see a team just enjoy the moment on their terms. And to see “management” back their people – incredibly refreshing. Well done on all fronts.
Yes the Olympics are a grandiose ideal. A utopian vision of peace and harmony, of athletic competition in the name of excellence for the sole purpose of bringing people together. Reality says it is a money-making machine. Packaged and feed to us in a sterilized and commercialized manner. The cynic says it is all corporations and sponsors, or just state sponsored propaganda wrapped up in an outlandish ideal of fringe sport silliness. Whatever. Sometimes it is worth it every few years to take a few moments and take in the spectacle that is Olympic sport. Maybe we might learn a lesson or two along the way.