Why I love the Olympics....(ok, sports in general)

Ok, so I am sure you have watched some the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin. Some people say it is boring and find the evening coverage canned and too condensed. Other people are following it avidly and wish there were more hours to watch.

I have seen some of it but let me tell you about the turning point for me when it comes to being a fan. Did you see the pairs figure skating final? There was a young Chinese couple that skated last that evening, hoping to skate well enough to win gold. They were going to be the first pair to ever perform some sort of quadruple rotation in the air (okay, so I don't know the correct terminology, but he was going to throw her into the air and she was going to spin around 4 times and land). So, 38 seconds in the program they prepare, and he tosses her (well, I have never seen anyone being tossed like that, the guy literally threw everything he had into this toss) and she spins 4 times.....and comes down.......missing the landing and crashing down with one leg in the splits and the other knee bent backwards......and then she slid into the mats on the side of the rink. It was devastating. The music stopped and the crowd was silent.

Her partner helped her up but she doubled over in pain and tried to skate over the side of the rink where her coach was. Looking at her, I thought that there was no way she would make it off of the rink. But slowly, and still doubled over, she skated over to her coach.

The officials said that the couple had 2 minutes to decide what they were going to do. If they left the routine, there would be no medal at all. But what else could they do? The woman talked with her coach, crying into a kleenex, as a murmur went through the crowd.

Then.....she put her kleenex down, said one last thing to the coach and SKATED BACK OUT ONTO THE ICE TO FINISH THE ROUTINE. It was probably one of the most amazing things I have ever seen in my sports history. It was incredible. They picked up where they left off and WON A SILVER MEDAL. Simply extraordinary.

These athletes put their bodies through tremendous stress and discipline in order to become elite in their sport. They deny themselves all sorts of things in order to excel. There are many things they have to say "no" to because it wouldn't help them toward their goal.

And they do it. Not always easily, but they do it, keeping their eyes on their goal.

If the average person put even half that amount of effort toward the goal of becoming holy (becoming like Jesus), they would be saints in no time.

St. Paul said, "run so as to win." Athletes run a race to win, and so should we. We should live our lives with the goal of completing the work that God has for us here on earth and then being with him, being happy, for all eternity.

But many people neglect that race, the most important race of all.

Crowns and honor and poularity fades. The person who is famous today will be forgotten by the world tomorrow. And yet we spend so much time persuing that which fades and has no value in eternity.

I love that idea in sports, that reality of pushing yourself to see what you can do, to see what you are made of. You work with other teammates to accomplish a goal, you sacrifice your own desires for the good of the team.

What if we took those principles and applied them to our path to holiness, to true happiness?

We'd be saints, by the grace of God, in no time.

(Go Apolo!)


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