Olympics 2008

Olympics, Olympics, Olympics! It's hard to avoid the Olympic games right now, even if you're not into sports. But what really gets me is the nationalistic jingoism that surrounds it. People want to criticize China for making such a big deal out of hosting it, but other host nations, including the U.S., also make a big deal about it.

And yet, why do people get all nationalistic about it? I mean, these are presumably the top amateur athletes that a nation has to offer in the competitions, meaning these are exceptional people, not ordinary people who are representative of their nation. So an American wins the gold in some particular event? It doesn't mean that I'm (as an American) a particularly gifted athlete, or that Americans in general are especially athletic. All it means is that one person is the best athlete in that event at that time, and he just happens to be from the United States. A Chinese athlete winning the gold doesn't make China a better (or worse) place, either. So all this nationalistic furor seems way over the top for me.

If anything, the Olympics are supposed to be above politics and nationalism, a chance for people to come together and celebrate the best that humanity as a whole has to offer, and to show the best that people can be. A win by an athlete from any country is a win for all of us.

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