October 3, 2000

The Olympic Spirit

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The Summer Olympics happen only once in a student’s college career — of course that is assuming that all college students do graduate in four years. So, for the enormous amounts of baseball and football games we watch with our college buddies over the years, we only have two weeks out of our college lives to cherish the spirit of the Olympic games with our beloved couch counterparts.

Due to this milestone event in our collegiate careers, my sofa supporters and I laid out a descriptive plan of attack for our two-week binge of Olympic viewing.

First, we all made a pact that we would not check the outcomes on the Internet before we saw that night’s event. Second, if we somehow breached the aforementioned pact, we would not reveal the outcomes to the rest of the uninformed group. Third, we stocked up on the supposed brew of the Olympics, Foster’s — “Australian for Beer”. Fourth, we returned our cases of Foster’s when we learned from an outside source that it was not the Olympic beer of choice nor was it a beer found in Australia. Since we did not know of any other Australian brew, we decided to forgo this valiant attempt to feel like a true spectator in Sydney by indulging in the host country’s beer. Fifth, we realized that we needed beer, so we stocked up on our own country’s most trusted brand, Budweiser.

After all of this hard work and preparation, it was time to sit back, throw our legs in the air, grab a beer from the fridge and indulge in the 2000 Sydney games. Over our two-week hibernation from the outside world, there were some monumental moments that will be remembered for a lifetime — two which distinctly stand out.

A couple nights ago, we watched as America captured the 4×100 men’s relay. After the four Americans, anchored by Maurice Green, won the race, they jogged around the arena donning the American flag, while flexing their biceps and showboating to the Sydney crowd. Boos emanated from the arena as they were in complete disgust over the American runners’ pompous antics. In similar fashion, we jeered from our sofa as we were ashamed to be associated as fellow countrymen with these four runners. Americans have a reputation as being egotistical and insolent, and these runners proved all critics correct. Up until that moment, I was not sure if my friends would have accepted antics similar to Maurice Green and Company. Yet, all doubts were erased when they showed vehement opposition to their excessive, unnecessary and blasphemous celebration.

The second moment not only defined my Olympic experience; it defined my four-year Cornell experience.

Earlier in the week, there was a cover story on the United States women’s softball team. Although most of the press coverage the team received discussed the implications of a gold medal, this story was of a different nature. It was about a high school softball player who dreamed of one day playing in the Olympics. Her dreams were shattered instantly as she was informed on a regular checkup to the doctor that she had cancer. The story chronicled her emotional rollercoaster ride battling the disease. Eventually, she overcame it. She was sent by a charity to sit with the team on the bench as it played a first-round opponent. The feature showed the compassion of the softball players and their spontaneous emotional connection with her. As we sat on our Olympic-spirited sofa, we all had similar physiological reactions. Eight seniors were in tears over this heartwarming story. This was the first time we had seen one another cry in our four years in Cornell.

The Olympics are a time for athletes to amass medals, gain notoriety and earn a spot in the history books. It is also a time every four years for friends to solidify relationships, learn something about one another’s character and have a great excuse to sit back on the sofa and have a beer.

Archived article by Jason Skolnik