If you’re any semi-normal person in the world that has access to a TV this week, you’ve probably caught a moment of Olympic action. Whether you’re interested in sports or not, its easy to get caught up a bit in the dramatics and showy display of athletics and patriotism.
In normal athletics, there are a few stories of grit and overcoming, but somehow, a professional NBA or NFL player’s story of progress doesn’t feel as inspiring as the stories we hear while watching the Olympics. Here’s why: The Olympics are full of people who are getting a few days to showcase to the world what they dedicate every waking moment to when they aren’t doing their full-time jobs of parenting/being a teacher/being a student/working at Home Depot. The Olympics aren’t inspiring because we’re watching elite athletes, they are inspiring because for many of them, this time is their pinnacle and afterwards, they’re retain their elite status but they’re go back to being normal people.
With the exception of Michael Phelps, Serena Williams, Gabby Douglas, or Misty May, there are 550 other American athletes alone that you probably wouldn’t recognize if you bumped into them on the street. You know, if you happened upon Virginia Thrasher or Laurie Hernandez or Caeleb Dressel…3 people who have proven to be the best in the world in their sport. And yet, they dedicate their everything to their craft despite the fact that you’ll never remember them. Possibly, in spite of that. For the sheer passion of what they’ve become impossibly great at.
Carlin Isles of USA Mens Rugby, came from an abusive home life to be adopted and given the opportunity to find his passion. Rafaela Silva of Brazil Women’s Judo, grew up in the toughest slums of the country and has now won Brazil’s first gold medal. You’ll cheer them on for the next month and then their names will be listed for history but not in your memory but thats ok. Because that makes their ascent and their greatness, all the more inspiring.