photo S.E Star / CC
In an age of glib marketing sentiments, it’s easy to be a little cyclical about another slogan ‘Inspire a Generation’. But, despite all the clichés and imperfections of the Olympics, I’ve found myself drawn into this great sporting spectacle and feel genuinely inspired by the Olympic spirit.
It’s an inspiration which runs far greater than the fact Great Britain have done very well. (Though I have to admit a shameless pride to see Yorkshire getting more gold medals than the sporting powerhouses of Australia and Japan combined. (Yorkshire 7th in Olympic medal table – God’s owns county)
The Olympics is really impressive. It does bring something very significant from the people involved. The dedication, the commitment, and discipline achieve something very positive and special. I’m not sure why, but you get a very different feeling watching the Olympic athletes, compared to say Premiership footballers. Despite a great drive to win from the athletes, you do often see a genuine affection for other athletes in the same event. An event like the heptathlon or rowing seems to create more fellow feeling than the Premier league.
In their defence, at least premiership footballers don’t start crying and thanking their parents every time they win, but the Olympics seems to hold a very pure sporting ideal. Maybe I’m looking through rose tinted glasses, but sometimes you just want to see the glass half full. When I listen to some athletes, I do get a genuine inspiration to go and train up steep hills in the rain. That extra inspiration was a pleasant surprise.
Even criticising athletes for being emotional in the Olympics is pretty hard and unsympathetic. This isn’t another weekly fixture to fulfill a £150,000 weekly wage packet. The Olympics is four years of focus and dedication – it is all or nothing. Packed stadiums and the world watching – how can you not be emotional at the intensity of the climax to your life’s work? Though I still wish TV interviewers would know when to stop asking questions which have been already answered, by obviously drained athletes. One thing is certain, no soap-opera could pack such raw emotion as an athletic final.
If I was a lazy teenage used to playing Nintendo, I think the sheer drama and excitement of the Olympics would inspire me to get off the couch. That is a real legacy.
Of course, if you wanted, you could think of a hundred reasons why the Olympics fails to be a pure sporting contest, you could take a depressingly utilitarian attitude that we should have saved our money to pay a fraction off our interminable national debt (that we’ve had since the 1640). But despite all those outer imperfections there is something very special about the Olympics – it does give glimpse of the higher ideals that sport can offer. What price can you put on inspiration and uplifting people spirits?
One of my favourite Olympic articles was from an Australian newspaper. -Best of British – hope and glory Usually, there’s nothing the British and Aussies like than to put the others down. The intense Ashes rivalry e.t.c. But, I think with the Olympics there is an opportunity to appreciate great athletics. It is an opportunity to show magnanimity as well as celebrate success.
Long live the Olympics, and long live the Greater Republic of Yorkshire.