An Olympics observation

Aug 7, 2012

As I age, I find it hard to sit down to watch the summer Olympics — the overproduced American television version of the Olympics, focused squarely on the American athletes and even then on the shortest of their highlights, is the opposite of my favorite quadrennial sporting event, the World Cup, with 90 minutes of uninterrupted play.

Still, I’ve snuck a few moments to watch gymnastics and some track-and-field events with Erin and the kids, although they somehow takes days to watch the already tape-delayed events.

Today, I found myself thinking about the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.

I was 14, spending the summer in Illinois with relatives (my family lived on St. Croix at the time). One week, I was at my Aunt Judy’s home, and somehow, I’d developed a shortness of breath and a painful chest spasm. I didn’t have health insurance, that I know of, and my aunt and uncle paid for a visit to their family physician, who diagnosed a pulled muscle and suggested a few days bed rest. That meant watching the Olympics, with Mary Lou Retton and company triumphant in gymnastics and the men’s and women’s volleyball teams fighting for medals — gold for men, silver for women.

I’ve enjoyed playing volleyball ever since, and even organized a weekend late-night game with friends when I was a freshman at John Carroll University.

And, I admit, when I stood outside the Olympic stadium in Sydney six months before the 2000 games, I crouched down as if I were a sprinter and bolted for a short run. Because the Olympic games do inspire me, even if I don’t have the luxury of being laid up in a bed with a full week to watch.

Anton Zuiker

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