I hadn’t even really noticed it until the trending hashtag of #GoTeamUSA caught my eye on Twitter last week, but we’re only a matter of days away from the 2012 Summer Olympics in London (July 27 to Aug. 12).
Every couple of years when the Olympics roll back around, I have minimal interest leading up to the summer or winter games, yet somehow, as the games approach, I start to get more and more excited about it.
The last few months have seen thousands of athletes striving to attain their dream of representing the greatest nation in the world through Olympic trials, but only a select number actually reach that dream.
Many of these athletes have become recognizable in their respective sports, racking up championships and millions of dollars along the way -- particularly athletes in the more popular sports, like basketball and soccer, as well as notable figures, such as Michael Phelps -- yet they’re very vocal that representing their country is the most important achievement in their athletic careers. For others, this is their big chance. They don’t have a seven-figure paycheck to return home to, or thousands of fans with their posters on their wall. Everything they’ve strived for in their life has led to this moment.
That’s how important this is to everyone involved, and that’s backed up by the unabated support that Team USA will receive from people across the country over the next month.
Americans, collectively, aren’t a group of people who are interested in second place; it’s not our style, or our culture. We take immense pride in being better than the opposition no matter the situation and that’s why anyone on Twitter in the coming weeks will see a lot of trends relating to the summer games. For a country that doesn’t pay attention to the vast majority of the Olympic sports for three years, we’ll certainly throw ourselves behind Team USA when it’s time to.
Right now there’s a gymnast, a swimmer, a track star or some other athlete that a Google search could barely find, but they’ll be a household name in a couple of weeks. It happens in every Olympics, new stars are born, and it’s part of what makes the games so special.
Phelps, who I mentioned earlier, is a perfect example of that. Without the Olympics, he’d be a fantastic swimmer, who the average Joe would barely have heard of, and you wouldn’t see him on every commercial break over the next month. Instead, he’s shattered gold medal records over the past two Olympics, as he’s sure to do again this year, on his way to becoming possibly the greatest Olympian in American history.
These story lines make sports great and are what sport is all about. Outside of the basketball teams and the majority of the USA soccer players, I won’t know much about the background of many of the athletes representing our nation, but I can guarantee I’ll be among their biggest fans cheering for them to bring home gold after gold.