Could you do it? Could you really do it?
"You Gotta Be Kidding!"
by Mickey Charles, CEO Sports Network
Could you train for years, perfect your skills, make sacrifices that were off the charts and put life, as most of us know it, on hold? Could you dedicate your very being, every waking moment and dream filled ones for the sake of a split second that would mean the difference between victory and defeat, the possession of a medal...gold, silver or bronze, with the gold, of course, the most cherished one? Is it possible to place your dreams and hopes on your talents in a competition to be determined by judges with an apparent bias and, to some degree, pre-determined inclination of where their respective votes will go?
Is it possible to achieve perfection with every twist and turn on the ice, each acrobatic movement, sailing through the air on the wings of developed faculties, twisting and turning, moving at speeds normally reserved for others in vehicles designed for same only to see it all fall apart with a misplaced piece of snow or chip in the ice, a landing that, for the first time, was not as it should be?
Could you really change places with any of those gathered together in Vancouver for these winter Olympics? Not for today, this week or the length of the competition, but for all that it took to get there? The sacrifices are indescribable while, at the same time, being admirable and enviable. They are without equal and the feeling of disappointment is just as great. But, can we measure the effort by the medals, or lack of them, or by the fact that these exemplary individuals have risen to the top and qualified to participate? That is achievement enough for most while others are determined to win the gold, to break and set records, to relish them and enjoy the spoils that will follow. They will have earned them.
These Olympics got underway with a presentation of their own, pride in the host country, Canada. Beijing was on everyone's mind except for the Canadians. They came to display who they are, what they stand for, where their roots were and perform in honor of their country. If Beijing was the standard for the future, it was not on the minds of those who welcomed the world to their country. Their self-esteem stood separate and apart, their performance was their own and not braggadocio...it was identity and self-respect.
The opening ceremonies were marred by the death of the Georgian luger, Nodar Kumaritashvili.
Everything for the opening ceremonies was certainly marred by the death of the Georgian luger, Nodar Kumaritashvili, a young man, 21 years old and, for all intents and purposes, not completely skilled at this sport but sufficiently so to represent his country. The warning put forth was that conditions were dangerously fast and 90 mph, or faster, was certainly going to be the order of the day. The young man was filled with confidence, the certainty and self-assurance of youth. He was secure, steady and without fear. But the training run for this slider sent him flying over the track wall and into an unpadded steel pole near the finish. Passion replaced by deafening despair and disappointment for all that knew him and/or heard of this tragedy.
Yes, the games will go on and other sliders, skiers, skaters will remember but, yet, dismiss the event when their turn comes. They have no choice. It is not disrespect. It is reality. Will the steel poles now be padded? Too late. However, officials have raised the walls at the exit of curve 16 to, hopefully, prevent another incident like this from happening again. Other events will be put on hold if conditions are less than perfect, as well they should.
We are pushing the envelope. It is human nature to do so. How far can we go, how fast, how high, how many twists and turns, how many times can we defy gravity and come out on the short end of the stick? More risks, TV's desire for still greater viewership and ratings, the Olympics competing with the world around them despite the inevitable interest in the events, raising the level of excitement, stirring the senses, electrifying and galvanizing the crowds and viewers...those are the objectives and the medal ceremonies at the podium(s) are the result.
Maybe Canada should have spent more time on the facilities than on the opening ceremonies. Perhaps they can explain why the limited training access to the track where this tragedy occurred in an effort to give their own athletes a competitive advantage.
The games go on. They always do. They will be consumed by monies infused by NBC, every country, those attending, the athletes themselves, sponsors, suppliers and an endless flow of others. The world falls apart financially and, yet, it turns a blind eye and deaf ear to that to bask in the Olympics and nationalistic pride at every moment that can be grasped to do so.
Flag waving will create sufficient breezes to fuel factories, chants of USA!! will be heard from the events to the streets of New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Pacific to Atlantic, Canadian border to Mexican. Canada is on display, hosting its third Olympics without any of its own athletes achieving a gold as yet and they are completely focused on erasing that failing...perhaps too much so. Yet, in reality, it is all about the medals but stretching the limits and catering instead of caring has already gotten things off badly.
Chants of USA!! will be heard from the events to the streets of New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Pacific to Atlantic, Canadian border to Mexican.
The question still burns...could you do this, could you now go out on the luge track and not be thinking of what took place the other day? Could you stand at the top of the ski jump and block out all else? Can you prepare for the downhill, get ready and wipe every other thought out of your head? Can you? You have to. That is what it is all about. The mental preparedness, the focus, the culmination of training for hours on end, until your body could not take it any longer and going back to do it again and again. To perfect your talent. To snowboard and do the unexpected, what no one else could replicate.
They are young, aggressive, filled with desire and a seeming reckless attitude that is filled with "Yes, I can and I will!" You cannot fault that. You have to admire it, bask in it and cheer them on for you find yourself part of it all once the race, game, competition gets underway. The death of the Georgian will not be a deterrent, it will serve as an inspiration to carry on and to accomplish, excel and have that medal gracing your neck.
This, after all, is the winter Olympics. Could any of us have done what these fine, skilled and incredibly gifted athletes have done to get here?
You gotta be kidding!