Happy Olympics to you all. I love this time. Every four years the people of America seem to come together for a common purpose…cheering for our nation’s best athletes as they compete against the world. I guess that’s what makes sports such a great thing. For a while, our petty differences don’t seem to matter all that much, whether you’re talking about the Olympics or some other sporting event.
When I go to a Cowboys game, I may be sitting next to a Liberal, or a Libertarian, maybe even a socialist. But who cares? At least I’m not sitting next to a Redskins fan. We don’t talk about politics. We don’t talk about Iraq or the energy crisis. No, we focus more on why Tony Romo can’t seem to win while he’s dating the latest hottie du jour. You won’t see Code Pink at a Cowboys game, and if you do it’s okay as long as they’re cheering for the Cowboys and not cursing our military. The point is we’re united despite our different backgrounds.
The same thing happens when I’m at a NASCAR race. You won’t hear any disagreements about drilling, or taxes, or how to properly fight Islamic extremism. Sure, there may be the occasional argument over who’s the better restrictor-plate driver, but it’s all in good fun. And the people of NASCAR are all-inclusive, a perfect metaphor for the way America should be. You’re not hated for your religious beliefs, or your sexual orientation, or your racial background. You’re not excluded based on your feelings about abortion. If you like to watch racing and you are passionate about the sport, you’ll be welcomed with open arms. Nobody cares about your political affiliation. Nobody cares about your background. The only thing that isn’t tolerated is political activism. That’s sort of a buzz kill for the folks who are there to have a good time. Be passionate about your favorite driver, but don’t talk about the Bush-Gore SCOTUS decision. After all, such talk does nothing to help your driver win the race.
Ever go to a college football game? You see quite a mix of people. There are 80 year old guys who never miss a game, and 20 year old kids who are recovering from last night’s frat party. They may vote differently but they all want their team to win and win big. It doesn’t really matter if the team wins with a conservative, grind-it-out running game or with a “showboat” progressive hook-and-ladder trick play…as long as they win. What a concept!
But nothing compares to the unity that we feel during the Olympics. We may be at each other’s throats about how to fix Social Security, but when the gun goes off we’re all pulling for Michael Phelps and the Red-White-Blue. That’s what makes the Olympics great to me. Others may say the competition is a time for world unity, but I disagree. For me, it’s more of a time for national unity. I don’t care about being united with the Chinese or the Australians. To me, it’s all about being united as Americans. I want our athletes to beat them all.
So here’s to the next 16 days. I look forward to America once again coming together as one. I’m hoping that McCain, Obama, Pelosi and Bush put aside the politics and give it a rest for a while. There’s plenty of time for jabs and mud-slinging after the closing ceremony. And, frankly, I think we’re all a bit tired of it. The Olympics only come around every four years, let’s not ruin them with the same old politics. Thank God the Olympics occur during election years. It’s good to get a break from the garbage that comes from Washington. It’s good to still see that no matter how different we may be we can still find that elusive common ground.
Coming together for the common good despite our personal differences…I think our elected leaders could learn quite a bit from American sports fans.