Everywhere I go, I become involved in conversation about the Summer Olympics, presently underway in London.
The other day at work, a patient’s family member wanted to stay in the waiting room to watch Michael Phelps on television rather than coming to the recovery room to hear about her family member’s test results.
In this world of instant communication, people often know the outcome of the events before they are even televised. Some are glad, since, for them, it is very difficult and stressful to even watch the competition, fearful as they are of falls or injuries, or failures on the part of their favorites. Others feel it takes the fun away from watching to know the outcome in advance.
Whatever the case, in my view, it’s always exciting. After all, you don’t know the details in advance, even if you know the outcome.
Throughout the television coverage, there are stories of the individual athletes, their accomplishments and the obstacles they have overcome. The stories are very moving. Seeing young people work so hard for so long to achieve their goals, seeing the sacrifices made by their families, is certainly not the usual fodder for the daily news.
When their performance is disappointing to them, their strength and courage, even in the face of defeat, their coming back for more and maintaining composure beyond their years is inspiring. It’s hard to imagine a teenager with such self control and discipline.
Our society worships celebrity, movie stars and even “real New Jersey housewives.” Movie stars and recording artists are not only talented in their skill, but often excellent businessmen and self promoters. Pretty or handsome alone just don’t do it. They’re a dime a dozen, especially in a world where you can buy a pretty face from a plastic surgeon. Personality and drive are much more important. Entertainment stars have a value to society, as entertainment is much needed, but pale in comparison with Olympic achievement.
Samyr Laine, a Haitian team member born and raised in the United States, is a Harvard University and Georgetown Law graduate. He has already been hired and his job placed on hold by a New York law firm while he competes as a triple jumper. He, incidentally, was a roommate of Mark Zuckerman, founder of Facebook, and was the 14th person to sign on to the social network site. Samyr plans to start a foundation to help Haitian children become Olympians. His most telling comment during an interview was that he is always in search of excellence, no matter what he is doing.
How refreshing to watch Americans so moved by commitment, perseverance and excellence – even when they aren’t representing the United States in London.