Higher, Faster, Stronger


-Hannah Mead, MCPP intern, 2008

I must admit my bias: I cared about gymnastics long before I cared about politics. I still drool over Olympics footage from the Atlanta games and, while I of course root for the U.S. I have nothing but sheer admiration for such athletes as Russia’s Alexei Nemov and Australia’s Ian Thorpe. “Miracle” is one of my favorite movies, and I don’t see how anyone can watch that and not understand what an awful thing a boycott is. I understand that there are deep and complex international issues, but I firmly support U.S. participation in the Beijing Olympics. While the games are about competition, and the teams are national ones, the Olympics should be free from foreign policy machinations.

The Olympics are about country (“Mike Eruzione… I play for the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA”), but not in a strictly political way. The federal government should not be politically involved in everything to do with America the country. My apple pie is American with or without FDA approval. Hamburgers are American with or without USDA-stamped beef. And for the federal government to even consider dashing the hopes and dreams of hundreds of extremely talented American youths is totally awful.

Maybe I’m just extra sensitive because gymnasts particularly face a very narrow window in which they are at their peak. Most are only in their prime for one Olympics. Has anyone seen Carly Patterson recently?

I’m no foreign policy expert; maybe boycotting the Beijing games would have sent some amazing message to China and they’d totally turn around the country. But I doubt it. [On the lighter side: The Beijing Olympics Are They a Trap?] I like to see the games go on in spite of international tensions. It’s sort of a Romeo and Juliet thing: The athletes will compete no matter how much their parent nations squabble. It shows there is something bigger, stronger, more comprehensive, more enduring, more important than government: human spirit.

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