I’m starting to get Olympic fever

Published 8:40 am Tuesday, July 10, 2012

It seems to me like four years is the perfect amount of time between events. It’s long enough that you anxiously wait for the next time, but it’s not so short that you start getting bored with it. I don’t think it’s mere coincidence that three of my favorite televised events occur every four years — a U.S. presidential election, the FIFA World Cup … and the Summer Olympics.

I have always had a genuine interest in the Olympic Games, but especially the summer variety. The earliest memory that I have of watching them is in 1992, when the games were held in Barcelona, Spain, and the Olympic flame was lit when an archer shot a flaming arrow through the air and had it land inside the massive torch. It seems like every four years, the Opening Ceremony has at least one defining moment that will live forever — I would argue that Beijing’s moment was when the choreographed dancers and drummers performed in nearly perfect time. I am anxious to see what London has in store for its Opening Ceremony.

I was lucky enough to be living in Alabama when Atlanta hosted the Olympics in 1996, and my father managed to get us tickets to one of the preliminary soccer matches, which was being played at Birmingham’s Legion Field. It was incredible to see the world-class athleticism on display when the U.S. national team took on a team from Argentina. It was even more interesting, because that Argentinian team actually trained at a Catholic monastery and boarding school in Cullman, Ala., St. Bernard Abbey and Preparatory Academy. Oddly enough, my brother would eventually attend that same school. Unfortunately the U.S. lost that game, 3-1, but it was still a lot of fun to get a chance to see an Olympic event live.

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Although I won’t be attending any of this year’s Olympics, I am lucky enough to have at least seen the city where they are being held. My family visited London in 2000, and it is an amazing place. The people were very friendly, and were even willing to let me and my dad “adopt” the English soccer team and watch a European Championship game in a London pub. I will always remember the distinctive voice of an English fan decked out in a “Three Lions” jersey behind us, who seemed to scream every 30 seconds, “Come on you Whites!” (England wore white jerseys). Of course, with his accent, it sounded more like, “Come on you Woites!”

Later this month, the beautiful country of England will get a chance to host the world as they begin the Summer Olympics. I know that I’ll be watching the Opening Ceremony from start to finish (or at least have it recorded somehow). I’ll likely watch at least some of the track-and-field, swimming and gymnastics, three sports that are virtually invisible in non-Olympic years. I’m sure I’ll cheer for the U.S. basketball team to win a gold medal, and likely at least take a small peek at some of the stranger sports like handball and judo.

I know there are some that complain that the Olympics have become overly commercial, or have lost some of their amateuristic spirit (by inviting NBA players to compete, for example). While those are legitimate complaints, I honestly don’t care. I love it all, whether it’s the spectacle of seeing each country’s flag displayed in the Parade of Nations, or John Williams’ distinctive Olympic Fanfare and Theme (more commonly known as “duuuun, duuuun, dadundundundun!”), or the spectacle of seeing the final person selected to officially light the Olympic flame.

Let the games begin!

Justin Schuver is the managing editor of The Post-Searchlight. You can email him at justin.schuver@thepostsearchlight.com.