Bring back Olympic hype


Some of my most vivid memories from my childhood were of watching the Olympics. I remember watching Kobe Bryant hitting a game-icing three in 2012 and my hometown’s hero Emery Lehman, who graduated from my elementary school, competing in 2014.

But outside of the memorable games and athletes, I remember so much positive energy around the Olympics. I remember my family glued to the TV during the opening ceremonies, restaurants packed with people wearing red, white, and blue, and even teachers planning Olympic-related activities.

This year’s winter Olympics have a different feeling. You don’t have to look at the historically-low viewership numbers to know that the United States does not care as much. For example, that same hometown hero of mine, Lehman, was the favorite in an event this year, but hardly anyone at OPRF was aware.

While some of the decreased enthusiasm can be attributed to COVID, I can’t help but think that a lack of patriotism is responsible as well.

It has become common practice, especially among young people, to “hate” on the United States. I am not the most patriotic person. I don’t have an American flag flying outside of my house, and I probably have more critiques about our country than the average American. But still, I don’t hate the United States.

What I love about the Olympics is that it takes down all the barriers between Americans. It doesn’t matter what party, race, or religion you are a part of. If two Americans chant “U-S-A” together, all divisions seem to fade away.

It is important to differentiate critiquing and despising America. Critiquing America is one of the most patriotic things one can do. Every good change that happened in our country, whether it was women’s suffrage or the Civil Rights Movement, came from those who refused to be complacent.

But those pioneers never hated America. For example, Muhammad Ali showed that one of the most popular critics of America could proudly represent the same country during the Olympics. He represented the United States when he won gold in the 1960 Olympics and later lit the torch in the opening ceremonies in 1996.

I watched the Olympics this winter. I enjoyed seeing the best athletes compete on the biggest stage.

In 2024, I hope more Americans will watch with me.