Armchair Games

Ah! the Games are here–with road racers, runners, swimmers, jumpers, riders, shooters, and more–all over NBC and its affiliates plus news outlets and the web. Fanfare, fantastic dreams, dreadful falls, and we get to watch some of the best athletes in the world.

Aggravations: Television coverage is terribly U.S.-centric. For many years I have also been annoyed by the “medal count” as a competition of its own. Yes of course athletes play for nations, but in most cases the comparative wealth of those nations tends to predict overall wins. And some sports require more money for equipment and training, plus a larger pool of competitors. I expect that national pride gives some of these athletes extra incentive to perform their personal best. Yet even the tiniest countries sponsor outstanding competitors. Let’s hear a little more about them!

The Obvious: Life informs sport informs life. We get to hear stories of individuals and how they have overcome devastating life events, injuries, and illnesses. Winners four years ago can be nudged aside by the up and coming. Most never make it to this level and we may not know about them at all. Competition brings its own challenges in turn–wins, losses, near misses, and terrible accidents. Just like life.

Armchair Angling: How much to watch? Which sports? I like to learn something about many of these sports and what constitutes excellence. Gymnastics and diving are so fast and exacting, for example, that I’m often astonished when the commentators and judges see errors.

The first Olympics I remember featured winning diver Greg Louganis. My older cousins were divers and I had seen them in action, so it’s no surprise that a world-class diver would attract our attention. Am I imagining this or did I really see him at a regional competition? It was part of the team’s training. Watching in person is far better than from a recliner.

Watching a neighborhood school’s field day is just as much fun as world class competition. (Reminds me of my 3rd grade 3rd place ribbon in long jump–the peak of my athleticism!)

Better yet, get up and get active! Kids in particular tend to stay inside more than when I was young. They often have less opportunity even for active play at school. If you’re in my league of fitness, there’s a lot we can do to get even a little stronger.

Stay tuned for the Paralympics a month from now (Aug. 29-Sept. 9) for extra inspiration!

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