I’m usually not that patriotic. Fireworks scare me; red, white and blue are not my colors; and my voice cracks when I try to hit the unnaturally high notes of “The Star Spangled Banner.” All that changes with the Olympics, however. A bastion of world competition, the Olympics transcend everyday sports fanaticism and tap into something deeper, some forgotten pocket of latent patriotism. Hating the Olympics is tantamount to hating your country.
You can’t watch Apollo Anton Ohno’s 500-meter win in speed skating after falling in the 1,500 without overflowing with American pride. I will hereafter refer to you as Robotron if your eyes remained dry when Sasha Cohen fell on her triple lutz — and then again on the triple flip — in the Torino games. And I dare you to tell me Shaun White’s Double-McTwist-ing, gold metal performance in the halfpipe Wednesday night didn’t make you want to tattoo “USA!” across your chest and atonally belt out “America the Beautiful” atop the nearest coffee table.
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I’m incensed when people disparage the Winter Olympics. Sure, some of the events are a little odd. Who becomes a biathlon athlete? What crackhead invented curling? Why is the two-man luge so inexplicably homoerotic? Nevertheless, it’s the spirit behind the games, and not the games themselves, that warrant the fervor. It’s not just a curling match; it’s a World War, where battles are confined to an ice rink and a well-aimed triple salchow can decide the victor.
The Olympics foster healthy rivalry. It is one of the few sporting events where members from the entire world unite for high-stakes competition, while millions of viewers exercise vicariously through their televisions. During the Olympics, America — a country composed of a plethora of nationalities, religions and cultures — can ally behind the red, white and blue uniforms of its athletes.
So drink the Kool-Aid. Turn on your TV. And prepare to discover patriotism of Olympic proportions.