Going it Alone in Sochi

At the Opening Ceremonies earlier today, viewers saw athletes from all over the world. The United States has 230 athletes participating (I believe that is the maximum number allowed by the IOC and general fairness); Russia has 226, and Canada 220. Nine other countries are sending over 100 athletes as well. No doubt these countries will be dominating the “Medal Count” tables – as if collecting the most medals means your country “wins” the Olympics.

The Olympics are not about which country gets the most “bling”. They are about athletes from all over the world getting together every four years to compete against each other. Sure, it takes a lot of time, money, and effort to get there. And there are minimum qualifications to be able to participate – they aren’t going to let just anyone come and play.

With extremely rare exceptions, you need the backing of a government to make it to the Olympics. Which is why they are dominated by the large and wealthy nations. But there are still small countries that manage to send athletes, and they are just as proud of them and cheer just as hard as any other country.

Here are the athletes who are the sole representatives of their countries:
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Great Moments in the Winter Olympics

One clear symptom of “Olympic Fever” is when the media starts producing lists of “Greatest Olympic Athletes” or “Top Olympic Moments”. One thing that should be obvious is the lack of respect given to the Winter Olympics.  While it is true that the Summer Games have around three times the number of events as the Winter Games, they’ve been around almost as long and have produced quite a number of great moments and great athletes.

Sadly, the lists of “Great Winter Olympic Moments” that I’ve seen are filled with jingoism (as if there were no athletes from outside the United States ever), and seem to consider controversies as “great moments”. Right…. Judging scandals and bribery are things we want to celebrate.

Let’s just leave it to the athletes – regardless of what countries they come from. Because every Winter Olympics has seen something worth celebrating.

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