“I enjoyed seeing Mr. Bean, James Bond, Paul McCartney, and the Queen at the Olympics.”
Those are words I never thought I would say. Yet the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics had me thinking just that.
Why do I love that statement? It shows us what the Olympics can do.
Last night, British culture was proudly on display for everyone to see. From comedy and legendary film characters to the best of British music and royalty, we got a glimpse of Britain and what these games are about.
As an American who loves sports, there is no doubt I love the athletic competition. American athletes are some of the best in the world. However, the Opening Ceremony for the Olympics reminded us why these games matter and why the Olympics are the greatest sporting event in the world.
Fans, athletes, and dignitaries stood shoulder to shoulder inside that stadium. Cultures collided in unity and peace. Joy and happiness filled the hearts of athletes and fans. People from around the world joined together on one stage where the color of skin, religion, or politics didn’t matter.
This is what the world should look like every day. This is the beauty of culture and travel in all of its glory. This is why the Olympics are the greatest sporting event in the world.
5 reasons why the Olympics are the greatest sporting event in the world
While the Olympics feature the greatest athletes in the world competing on a world stage, the Olympics show us why the greatest sporting event in the world is so much more than just the games.
We are different. We don’t believe the same things, govern the same way, or live similar lifestyles. However, travel can change the world. Travel can teach us to embrace our differences.
While many of these athletes train and compete, they may not have the chance to cross many borders. From Australia to Zambia, athletes from all over the world will come together and meet people that are different from them.
India and Pakistan will compete. Iranians and Americans will face each other. Super powers will face the powerless. And worlds will be turned upside down.
People may realize that we have more in common than the media or government propaganda tells us. Maybe we are more similar than different. And maybe we can learn to look past those differences and learn to respect and understand one another.
There’s no better place to start crossing the cultural divide than the greatest sporting event in the world – the Olympics.
Every athlete has a story. However, there are stories of people who have overcome adversity in life to succeed. I’m not just talking about rising up from poverty in an inner city to become an Olympian.
I am talking real adversity.
Samia Yusuf Omar lives in Mogadishu, Somalia in a two bedroom house with seven family members. She competed in the women’s 200M race in the 2008 Olympics. She finished last – by a lot. Yet the crowd roared and cheered as one of Somalia’s two Olympians sprinted towards the finish line.
With her country embroiled in a war, Samia does what she can to find food each day. While other athletes were concerned about medals, she just wanted to finish the race.
All of us have a race to run. Regardless of our circumstances, ours is probably a much easier one to run than Samia’s.
That’s one of many inspirational stories from athletes around the world. If you want a tug on your heart strings, forget the 2012 Summer Olympics. Stay tuned for the 2012 Paralympics Games.
For heartwarming stories and tears, this may top the regular Olympics as to greatest sporting event in the world.
Athletes from various nations will compete against each other. Many of these athletes will never cross paths again. They are from different countries. Some of these nations are enemies. Despite religious, political, and moral differences, these athletes will compete on the same stage.
Afghanistan’s Tahmina Kohistani will compete as a runner in the women’s 100M race. She will wear a headscarf, long trousers, and long sleeves in keeping with her Muslim faith. Yet she will be running against Christians and people with beliefs very different than her own.
She is proud to be a part of the Olympics and hopes it inspires women in her own country. While American and British soldiers are fighting in Afghanistan, they will all be competing against one another in peace.
When people come together on this stage despite our cultural, political, and religious differences, it gives us hope.
While the athletes are here to win, they also bond with one another. These Olympics games give people an opportunity to meet others from other walks of life.
These athletes have trained their whole lives for this. Many find something much more important at these Olympic games. Yet it’s more than just the athletes who are kind.
In Bury St Edminds, the Rwanda athletes trained for the Olympics. From a war torn country to a clash of cultures, the lives of these athletes are very different than the people in this British town in Suffolk.
However, the people embraced them.
People lined the streets to cheer as Rwanda’s athletes ran. Locals acted as pacemakers and joined the athletes on their run. Students created a mural welcoming Rwanda’s five Olympic athletes. The people threw a 16th birthday party for Rwanda’s Alphasine Agahozo.
In a country torn apart by war and genocide, the kindness of a British village has made these athletes smile.
5. Life lessons
Yes, there is a lot of sex in the Olympic Athlete village. The International Olympic Committee may be more interested in money and corporate sponsorships than the games. Politics and scandal haven’t escaped the Olympic spotlight. And protests and bad behavior will rear their ugly heads at the Olympic games.
However, there are also some important life lessons that can be learned from watching the Olympics. Play by the rules, persevere, treat others with respect and kindness, and work hard to be the best you can be.
Sometimes winning a medal isn’t what matters. Most athletes come here and never win. Yet there is something great about being an Olympian.
These Olympic games can teach us some great life lessons that may change the way we live, interact with others, and inspire our kids to become better people.
The Olympic Games – A world of hope
Generosity, inspiration, culture, character, and unity – there are no better building blocks to giving our world hope than this. If these same traits we see in the Olympic games were displayed every day, our world could live in peace.
While the World Cup may be the biggest sporting event in the world, the greatest sporting event is the Olympics. No other event will see people from so many countries come together, put aside their differences, learn more about each other, and compete with respect and unity.
Whether people love to travel or enjoy cheering on life from home, the Olympics are an opportunity to learn about others, be inspired, and realize that the world isn’t so bad when we come together with smiles on our faces and joy in our hearts.
The greatest sporting event in the world gives us hope that we can be One.
If you love sports, culture, and travel, join me on the road for my 2012 College Football Travel Tour.