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Friday, February 19, 2010

Olympic Fever

I admit it. I haven’t been getting enough sleep this week. I’m addicted – to the Olympics. Last night, it was after 12:30 a.m. Eastern Standard Time when Evan Lyacek mounted the podium to receive the gold medal in men’s figure skating. I’ve followed Lindsey Vonn’s ups and downs and Shaun White's acrobatics for gold in the men’s halfpipe, as well as the lesser known victories – Canadian Maëlle Ricker's win in the women’s snowboard cross or Hongbo Zhao and Shen Zue's gold in the figure-skiing pairs.

So, I was surprised to find that not everyone shares my passion. In an essay in New York Magazine, writer Jason Zengerle wonders what all the fuss is
about ("Why Bother With the Olympics? Obsure, Unpopular Sports Will Never Change the World,” Feb. 7, 2010). I definitely disagree with his argument that one should not watch the Olympics because biathlon and ice dancing are less compelling than football or basketball.

What fascinates me is the time and energy these young athletes devote to being the best they can be. Sure, the Olympics won’t ensure world peace, but for two weeks – during the depth of a mid-Atlantic winter – I can put the problems of the world on a backburner and watch the best of a new generation, who – you never can tell – might just change the world.

I guess I’m a romantic at heart. So tonight, I’ll plop down on my couch for a few more hours to enjoy skiers attack the slopes, sledders on their skeletons and whatever else the Games offer. And it is only Day 8. There is another week to go!

Of course if you are an Olympics junkie like me, you can find stories, stats and fascinating history in some of the books below:

The Complete Book of the Olympics by David Wallechinsky (2008)

Historical Dictionary of the Olympic Movement by Bill Mallon (2006)

Something in the Air: American Passion and Defiance in the 1968 Mexico City Olympics by Richard Hoffer (2009)

Rome 1960: The Olympics That Changed the World by David Maraniss (2008)

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