The 2010 winter Olympic torch relay came through our hometown today and the whole family went down to check out the festivities. It was a special event to be a part of and our community was behind it. I must say that I enjoyed the experience and it rekindled some buried feelings towards the Olympic Games. I grew up loving the Olympics but I have been a bit down on them in recent years. There is much to be disenchanted with the Olympic movement lately but it is the ideal behind it I cling to and want our kids to appreciate.
I have watched every single Olympics since I can remember and the highlight for me have always been the opening ceremonies and more specifically, the parade of athletes. The idea that the whole world can come together for one event to celebrate our similarities and to marvel at our differences is truly powerful. I always felt that the Olympics were a symbol of hope; hope to move beyond conflicts, prejudices, and ideological squabbles that linger because of a few and that the aspirations of the majority can become a reality and we can live peacefully in a global society. I realize that I, nor my kids, will live to see the day without global conflict, but the idea that it can exist cannot fade completely.
There are many, and the numbers seem to growing, who feel the Olympics have lost their way. They have become extremely corporate, political, elitist, and many of the professional athletes competing seem to have lost the ‘for the love of sports’ attitude. Many of the stories in the news surrounding around the torch relay to date have been about the protesters who are voicing their anger towards cost overruns and mismanagement of public money used to host these Olympics in Vancouver. The amount of money that is being spent on this 2 week event is staggering and the protesters feel that those billions of dollars could have been better spent helping the homeless, getting drugs off our streets, boosting education, and cleaning up our communities, which is pretty hard to argue. This is not the feeling towards the Olympics I want to pass on to my children however.
While I am one who does feel lost beside the commercial monster the games have become, standing with our three young kids side by side with other families from our community, I was thinking more positive thoughts than negative. I forgot all the reasons why I should not be cheering the flame and instead thinking of the reasons why we should support the flame, and the hope it represents. I felt a sense of pride for my home province and country hosting this global event and the chance we have to show people around the world how we can celebrate the greatness of human diversity. If the world can come together for sport, imagine what else we can do together. Just an overstated pipe dream I know, but that is the message I want my kids to take away from today.