For whatever reason, athletic events bring out the philosopher in my husband, Edwin. The Olympics turn him into Plato, sort of. Last night we were talking about why he loves them so much. He had a few good reasons. The best of which is that he enjoys seeing just how small the United States really is. In a three hour procession of countries, the U.S.A only takes a couple of minutes. Some countries are represented by a handful of people, and others have hundreds of athletes. But they all count. Every athlete marches through a long procession, knowing that the world looks on, cheering or booing, they're paying attention.
Another reason Edwin takes such joy in the Olympics is that a Gold Medal represents true victory. No one in the world is better, or they weren't on that day. This adds a significance and intensity to such activities as swimming and beach volleyball that nothing else can. The world watches as a sixteen year-old girl dances and jumps and twirls on a mat. We all look on as a fifteen year-old boy represents the country in a pool, swimming faster than an electric car can drive.
Then my Plato brings up one of the other reason he loves the Olympics. He likes the time difference. Everything in the United States seems to be planned for the television, and he loves that a hugely important event can take place at nine a.m. or 2 p.m. Maybe it's not the deepest of insights, but he has a point. I'm not totally sure why athletic competition transforms my husband as it does. I'm glad it only occurs every four years, and I'm glad that it occurs.