Bye, Bye Beijing

Tonight was the closing ceremonies of the 29th Olympiad. Sad. My DVR might go into withdrawal. As I sat in my parents’ living room watching the magnificent show Beijing (and for one very short act, London) put on, I was struck by a number of things.

1. Has the entire world has been in such a media bubble? I mean, there’s still a war in Iraq and Afghanistan, still unrest in the Sudan, still Russian troops in Georgia, still billions of people living life, but for the last 2 weeks, we’ve focused more on what unites us than divides us…that’s a pretty remarkable thing.

2. I don’t know how much Visa spent on those commercials with Morgan Freeman, but they were worth every penny. I rewound the TV every time I glimpsed the sepia tones.

3. Would Paris’ or Madrid’s or New York’s segment of the games been as fun and as iconic of their city as London’s small act? I have posters and/or t-shirts of all of their 2012 Olympic bids, but tonight for the first time I was glad London won those games. As old and diverse as London is, it would be easy for the city to have an identity crisis or be selective in revealing her face to the world. Instead, she showed us her diversity in the simple and yet unifyingly British act of waiting for a bus. If I was wearing a hat, I’d tip it to my friends across the pond.

4. Fame is fickle. As I looked through the crowds at the athletes, I wondered how many of them were the golden children of Athens or Sydney or Atlanta that have now been overshadowed by the Michael Phelpses and Usain Bolts of Beijing. Will Shawn Johnson’s star fade like fellow beam gold medalist Shannon Miller’s? Will Aaron Piersol pass the backstroke mantle he received from Lenny Krazelberg on to Ryan Lochte?
This year’s Olympians were incredible. Despite special equipment or suits or state of the art tracks or pools, world records fell like rain this year because athletes from all over the world came to compete. I think we forget, though, that they are equally spectacular every year…it’s not a once in 4 year thing. I’m challenged to be as loyal a fan at next year’s swimming world championships in Rome, or gymnastics world championships in London, or track and field in Berlin. I’m also challenged to hold in my heart the Jason Lezaks and Sasha Artemovs and countless other heroes who weren’t media darlings…they deserve to be celebrated even if they won’t be on a cereal box.

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