Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Good, The Bad, The Olympics

I confess I have joined London and the rest of the world in following the Games of the XXX Olympiad. Due to time constraints and television schedules, however, I've only watched a small number of the 10,000 athletes from 204 countries compete in events. In the course of these games, I have witnessed incredible acts of courage, along with some not-so-great moments. To date, I think, one of the most inspirational races I witnessed was the men's 400-meter heat, where South African, Oscar Pistorius, qualified for the semi-finals. It's hard not to be inspired by a man who lost both his lower legs when he was a child qualify to race against able-bodied men in the greatest of all arenas: the Olympics. His race was one of the games' best moments.

In contrast, these games also have given us the "evening of shame," as eight badminton players were expelled, charged with "not using one's best efforts to win a match" and "conducting oneself in a manner that is clearly abusive or detrimental to the sport." I didn't see the match, so I really can't comment; though I can speak to the concept of allowing an opponent an apparent advantage in order to improve one's odds of winning. I've watched enough Major League Baseball to understand the advantage of an intentional walk. In these Olympic Games, I've listened to announcers for the men's swim heats suggest that easing up in the heats would conserve vital energy to go for the gold. I have watched soccer (football) teams intentionally kick the ball out of bounds, instead of trying to keep it in play.

But, on balance, these games have been more than inspirational, as individuals show the world what it takes to be the best competitors possible. These athletes have displayed how their relentless training and singularity of focus can translate into attaining goals seemingly impossible. The marvel of solid team play has also been evident, as players think "team" and not "individual." Here participants are supportive of one another, as they face their competition, being unified in purpose and goal. The games also show that in any given competition, each contestant has an opportunity to win the gold.

Men, there are valuable lessons we can take from the Olympic Games, as we lead and inspire others. Our objective may not be the seven grueling events of the heptathlon, and we're probably not defending a world record in handball or boxing. But we most assuredly can stretch our personal limits to reach goals thought to be beyond our capability and always give our best.

And while we're at it, let's remember our team members too, knowing that our experience and hard-won insights might be just what our brother needs to perfect his game.

And, who knows, he might have a few nuggets to share with us as well.

No comments :