It's that time again; 08-08-08: the opening ceremonies for the 2008 Summer Olympics (yes, I know i'm late in writing this). On that day, the countries of the world came together to begin the greatest festival of sporting in world history.
Around 786 BC, in Olympia, Greece, games began to be organized for public entertainment. Every four years afterward, the Olympic Games, the most important of these competitions, was held to display the prowess of the greatest athletes in the Greek empire. During this time politics were pushed aside, wars could not continue, trials went on hold, and the death penalty was forbidden. Until late in the Roman empire, probably during the reign of Theodosius the Great in 393 AD, the entire world shoved aside its mundane problems to enjoy sports, at least for a little while.
Then, in 1896, the Games were revived in Athens, Greece. Once more, the world could gather together in peace and enjoy competition together, each country cheering for their representatives at this most important event.
Don't be fooled—the Olympics are about more than just games. Each country is putting its national pride on the shoulders of its most gifted athletes. A good example of this is the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, where Adolf Hitler's doctrine of Aryan superiority was smashed by Jesse Owens, the African-American runner who took home four gold medals against the best "Aryans" in the world.
Excluding cancellations for World Wars One and Two, the Olympic Games have been held every four years since the 1896 revival. Even today, each nation pins its hopes for glory on their best sportsmen, and the people of the world will laugh and cry along with their countrymen that are competing in Beijing. Politics go on hold for the games, even today; Russia and Georgia are on the brink of war, and we are in one, but still the Games go on. Why do the Olympics need to persist? It is everything that is right in the world: the people of this planet put aside their cares and differences to come together over sports, even if only for a little while.