Saturday, August 09, 2008

The Thrill of Victory and the Agony of Defeat

Is that what the Olympics are about? No, that’s not the whole story.

I watched two tall U.S. beach volleyball players easily beat two shorter Japanese women. I’m happy for the U.S. team win, but the difference in physical size had to have played a part in the match.

Michael Phelps won the 400-meter individual medley swimming competition against several swimmers who were almost as good as he was. Not only that, he bested his own world record. In his case, it wasn’t just the other competitors he was swimming against, he was trying to swim faster than he had ever done in the event.

What a commitment all the participants at Beijing have made to their sport of choice. It has consumed years of their lives. They have proven something to themselves by doing this. Just making it to the Olympics is an achievement in and of itself.

All any of them can hope for is to do their best. I think they are all doing their best, but someone has to win. The subjective judgment of officials and judges plays a part in some sports more than others, but intangible factors are in the midst of these competitions that we can’t quite put our finger on.

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