Why Do You Think You Care About The Olympics?

Jay JamesonCorrespondent IAugust 10, 2008

If you're one of the many "fans" of The Olympic Games, it's time for a reality check.

If you're an American, what are you really rooting for? Is it a big win in the hardly important medal count? Is it the chance to remember that you're a citizen of the United States? Is it for dominating performances by the three or four U.S. athletes you can name?

I'll be the first person to say that I find the athletes who compete on the Olympic level to be the embodiment of athletic greatness, and are some of the best in the world (after all, not all of the competitors are professional players--think baseball among others). However, where's the hook?!

Am I supposed to cheer for every American in every sporting event? There are some events that I'm pretty sure don't qualify as things I'd even see at a circus. Am I supposed to be excited every time a U.S. Olympian medals--which means gold, silver, or bronze? I thought this was a country where "If you're not first, you're last." Silver and bronze need not apply. Is the ultimate goal to make sure we recapture basketball dominance? Or see Michael Phelps set a record in the pool? I'm so lost as to why anyone tries to justify watching hours of ridiculous Olympic coverage.

I'm sure there are plenty of people who tune in just watch the athletes compete, or because they find the whole Olympic spectacle interesting. Some people may just be enthralled of awkward sporting events like the ever popular 10m Air Rifle, or 46kg Judo. And this is fine--to an extent. The real hook in sports in competition. And the very definition of competition would have us believe that there ought to be some vested rooting interest for one side, competitor, or team. So if you're pulling for Phelps, shouldn't you be pulling for Natalie Coughlin, too? Or do you not know who that is?

Do we as a nation think there is some undertone of political turmoil between China and the U.S. and maybe amongst other nations that give these games more of a meaning? Or is there a value in the facade of peaceful athletic competition? What are the Olympics, really? A chance for us to remember Jesse Owens, John Carlos and Tommy Smith, Keri Strug and Greg Louganis? Or for us to continue to funnel our dollars into Nike's marketing campaigns?

Here's a little more food for thought for the Olympic apologists. What's getting more sports media coverage back here in the States? The Olympics, or Brett Favre fumbling snaps in Jets camp? Yeah. You guessed it. Sports that really matter, like the one's I'm going to be watching all Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring are still more important here than the Olympics.

But don't let that put a damper on the big farce of "countries coming together" once every four years to compete in sports you can't spell. If you want to tune into NBC's coverage of women's beach volleyball (which they cover for one reason, and one reason only), then by all means, do so. But please, please know why you're doing it. Unless you're a bandwagon riding Red Sox fan; then we all know why you're watching.