Open Mic: Does Political Hatred Influence Excitement About Summer Olympics?

Dan PieroniCorrespondent IAugust 15, 2008

I don't know about you, but I've been captivated by these Olympics.

How can you not be?

Between Michael Phelps's unbelievable swimming prowess, as he attempts to become the first athlete ever to win 8 golds in a single games, to 41 year-old Dara Torres winning a Silver medal against women half her age, these games have something for everyone.

Notice that I never said I was captivated by the games because I'm a red-blooded patriot and I enjoy the fact we beating China in their own backyard.

I am well aware of the both the fact the the USA threatened a boycott of the games if the Chinese military didn't pull out their troops around the world, and that President Bush was booed at the opening ceremonies last Friday night.

I believe it is very unfortunate that two countries cannot put their differences aside for a period of two weeks and just enjoy a great athletic spectacle.

While it may be true that some people see the Olympics as a proxy to rekindle the flames of political conflict, I beg to differ.

To me, the Olympics have always been about the best athletes in a series of sports duking it out to see who the best in the world is in that particular sports.

The Olympics is also a chance for athletes all over the world to obtain one shining moment that will allow them to be fondly remember in their homelands for generations to come.

The opportunity for young men and women to shine is the culmination of years of hard work and dedication to their craft.

Most likely, these athletes have had to give up their social lives because they have the will and desire to be the best in their sport.

If they win the gold medal, they've reached the top of the mountain, if they don't, better luck next time, or sorry you never won.

But what if these athletes are denied the chance to strut their stuff on the Olympic stage because of some silly political conflict between two countries?

Those are the athletes I feel the worst for!

Imagine being a US athlete in 1980 who spent countless hours training for your event only to find out weeks before the games that you can't go because the President is upset over the host county's invasion of Afghanistan.

That's a slap in the face to me, especially if this was your only chance to make the games.

The same goes for Soviet athletes in 1984 just because the government was still bitter about the US boycott 4 years earlier and refused to send their athletes to Los Angeles.

It is understandable that this was at the height of the cold war. However, no political leader should have the ultimate say in whether or not their athletes can go to the games because the Olympics are about athletics, not which country is best.

Imagine if Australia boycotted the 2004 Olympics? We would have never gotten to see the showdown between Michael Phelps and Ian Thorpe to see who really was the best swimmer in the world?

Or imagine if the US or Russia boycotted the 2000 games? Rulon Gardner would have never been able to claim that he beat Alexander Karelin, the best wrestler in the world.

To me, a boycott by a major country is a no-win situation.

The fans are shut out from seeing the best athletes in the entire world, leaving a superior athlete with no competition because of the boycott to an easy victory.

The athletes are also deprived of a chance to compete on an international stage because of it.

It's all because some bigwig political leader wants to flex their muscles by boycotting a host country's Olympic because they don't approve of their political practices.

It's not about moralistic country principles, or taking pride in your country. It's about taking pride in your country by being the best you can be in your sport.

Frankly, I hope it stays that way.

Boycotts don't prove anything.