I had not given much thought to the upcoming Olympic games in London this summer until this article in NCR about the Catholic bishops in the UK using the Games to increase attention on the faith. The article brought back a flood of memories.
I used to be an Olympic-holic. I watched round-the-clock coverage. In 1976, my Dad and I went to Montreal for the first ten days of those games. We attended the opening ceremonies, and we saw swimming and diving and rowing and gymanstics and volleyball and the opening track and field competition. But, the absolute highlight was team handball, a game little known in the U.S. but very popular in central Europe. If you ever go to a summer games, get tickets for the team handball. We went back and got more tickets to watch more of this incredibly fast-paced game that is a little like water polo without the water.
In 1980, some friends and I went to Lake Placid for the winter games. Lake Placid is a tiny town, and when you walked down the main street to find a place to eat, you would pass athletes and encounter people from all around the world. We saw Eric Heiden win one of his gold medals and watched a ski jumping event - Lord, why would anyone do that! We saw the U.S. hockey team defeat Romania on its way to a surprise gold medal win. It was a blast.
Over the years, my interest in the Olympics waned mopstly because I chose not to have a television in my home. But, they still combine these amazing athletic performances, a multi-week, non-stop international street party in the host city, and some stunning architecture. What's not to love. I am not going to make the trip to London this summer, but if you have never been to an Olympics, go and bring your kids. You won't regret it.