All that Glitters

Each week at our team meetings there’s a fun question that we all answer upon signing in. Yesterday’s question was, “If everyday tasks were Olympic sports, what would you win gold in?” My answer to this question was, “Watching the Olympics.” My roommates and I recorded each day’s primetime coverage (we’re still in our 6 month DVR free trial and its awesome) and became experts at being at least marginally productive while doing homework in front of the television. With all the athletic┬ásliding, jumping, and twisting happening it became difficult to suppress daydreams of my own upcoming athletic endeavor with the Illini 4000. I started thinking about how the Olympics and Illini 4000 are related aside from the obvious parallel that they both involve getting into pretty decent physical shape.

The unity the Olympic Games create throughout countries and the entire world has always been remarkable to me. Amid political controversy and differences in beliefs, these Olympics seemed to be just as much about sport as they were about a people trying to unite with the rest of the world and communicate that they’re not so different from the rest of us. The opening and closing ceremonies centered around the rich Russian history that often fails to be acknowledged under the shadow of other issues. What do a bunch of skiers and snowboarders have to do with this? I suppose to me it just goes to show that sport is something that puts everyone on the same level. To make a really terrible pun, (no shame.) sports keep the people of the world on a level playing field.

This idea of the unification sports create became even clearer after hearing a wonderful speaker by the name of Jean Driscoll last Friday night. You can learn more about Ms. Driscoll on her website, but to make a long story short, she’s the definition of a role model: Humble, sincere, and charismatic. She has also won the Boston Marathon 8 years in a row, broke the world record in it 5 times, and has won 2 Olympic medals and 12 Paralympic medals. In a wheelchair. She’s labeled by society as someone with a “disability” but has accomplished things those considered “able bodied” can’t even dream of. And what, you might ask, helped her overcome the challenges of being different while growing up? You guessed it! Sports. Being athletic. Playing basketball, competing in track, and later marathons. Everybody can relate to the experiences that athletic competition has to offer no matter how you propel yourself.

So perhaps “All that glitters is not gold” isn’t just a saying. Flashy medals and billowing flags cause us to stand tall, but the true Olympic gold and Illini 4000 finish aren’t about winning the race, but instead embody the raw connection of people to sport and what it means to do something by way of your own body. We can’t all pull a 900 on the half pipe or bike 100 miles a day, but we all have bodies and can all understand what it means to sacrifice comfort and work as hard as physically possible in order to achieve something truly worthwhile.

P.S. Jean Driscoll actually let us touch her Olympic medals. I freaked.
P.P.S. Is it too late for me to become a biathlete?
P.P.P.S. Sorry for all the awful cliches I used in this post… but sometimes they just work, you know?
P.S.S.S.S. Is it P.P.P.P.S. or P.S.S.S.S.?

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