It hasn’t been until recently that I have enough context to appreciate the Olympics. As I grew up, it was just sports. Most of the time boring sports, without the wild commercialism that we, as Americans, enjoy in professional sports.
History though, tells a different story. It’s more than sports.
Let’s take for instance the tensions that remain with Georgia, Russia and Azerbaijan. Russia invaded Georgia just a few years ago, ethnic division and border tensions exist today.
When they meet on the wrestling mat, isn’t there a heightened significance? A Georgian Officer once told me that the pages of his country’s history are wet with blood, the Russian Minister of Defense calls Georgia, “Their archenemy.”
Will Croatia and Serbia face off in a bloody handball match or just continue their historic strife? The hatred goes back way before the US was even a twinkle in the eye of Great Britain.
Will Turkey and Armenia square off? The Turks still reject any notion of a genocide while the Armenians demand acknowledgement for their 1.5 Million slaughtered.
We learned what North Korea thinks about the South Korean flag hanging at their games.
Israel and anyone? According to some Iranian officials all Israelis are dogs (or is it pigs?) and they should be destroyed.
With context, the Olympics are a little more exciting and interesting. In the span of the history of the world, our country is just a baby. We are a new kid on the block; blood runs deep but not as deep as many.
Some of the countries that will compete in London have lost generations of men over and again due to the deep, indelible feuds they continue; its more than just soccer….or, futbol.