Overhearing conversations in my hotel, glancing at the headlines on papers and listening to the television commentary gives me the sense that all anyone cares about during the Olympics are record breakers like Michael Phelps. As for myself, I'm not winner focused. I blame that on my ancient obsession with Oscars. I'm more fascinated by the nomination process than who wins. It's also why when I started my online punditry many years ago (many many many many years ago. sheesh I'm Gandalf) I passed out virtual gold, silver and bronze medals rather than a single trophy. That's commonplace around the blogosphere now but I trail blazed that Olympic take on movie awards.
This is all a long way of saying that I get really bored with what I view as bad sportsmen statements that you hear all during the games "he/she won't be happy with a silver medal!" as if being second best in the entire world is something to be ashamed of. Maybe I just don't have enough of a competitive spirit but I watch these games and I get bored with the winners (Michael Phelps ...again? There are so many great swimmers) just like I get bored with multiple repeat Emmy winners or regular Oscar nominees who don't deserve shortlisting every single time. Instead, I feel so much for the Olympic "losers". They are amazing amazing athletes. Imagine being among the very best in the world at any one thing? It's just... gah! What a thrill it should be. And yet we focus only on the gold.
So here's to all the fourth place finishers in Olympic events and here's to anyone who ever lost an Oscar! And please raise your glass to all the people who were ever great at anything. And even all the people who were ever almost great. Working at being nearly great is better than most people manage, don't you think? So here's to all the Olympians from everywhere and the alternates, too.
And, finally, here's to Geena Davis !
She's the only famous actress I know of who was also nearly an Olympian. It's my favorite bit of Olympic sports trivia. "Thelma" tried out for the US archery team way back in 1999 but didn't make the finals. She did win the Oscar. She also got to have famous pretend sex with Brad Pitt. But then her movie career dried up long before anyone expected it would. The moral of this story is that you really can't win them all. But win or lose, be game.