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The Games of the XXIX Olympiad showcased humanity at its finest--pageantry, artistry, athleticism, unity, but also humanity at its poorest--nationalistic trash-talking, violent attacks, and biased judging.
I watched the Opening Ceremonies impressed over and over by the sheer spectacle of surging human waves with lights and sounds and a torch-bearer running through the sky around the perimeter of Beijing's now-immortalized Bird Nest.
Did you hear the cheers from the crowd when the Iraqi contingent entered the Nest? Did you see athletes leaving their designated areas to greet athletes of other countries, shake hands and take pictures together? Did you catch the symbolism in the giant painting with footprints of every one of the athletes on it?
I remember thinking during those opening ceremonies, "This is what the Olympic Games are all about--"One World, One Dream." Pretty darn good motto.
Then the Games began.
The Olympics offered enough drama to keep my heart rate elevated 'til I'm sixty: Usain Bolt's ridiculously speedy 100 and 200 meter world record sprints, Michael Phelps' place in Olympic history (See ya, Spitzy?), and of course the US men's and women's basketball teams storming to victory after victory.
But I'll also remember these Olympics for the French swimmer who promised to "smash" the American relay team and the stupid anti-French vitriol from American fans that littered blogs and chatrooms all over the Web. I'll remember the Cuban athlete who kicked one judge in the face and punched another official after losing his Taekwondo match. I'll also remember the vido footage of Brazilian women sobbing inconsolably on the soccer pitch after losing gold to the American women.
While I love sport and wish I could have been a professional cyclist (or maybe just enjoy the feel of my shaved legs), I admit that the images of people from every tribe and nation standing shoulder to shoulder as peers and fellow athletes during the opening ceremonies left me with a better feel than everything that followed.
While I pine for that elusive unity, here are some other Adventist bloggers' takes on the Games:
Mike Fortune discusses the lip-synching girl during the opening ceremonies at the Fortune Cookies blog.
Ken Curtis offers a comparison of the Olympics and the meeting of McCain and Obama at Rick Warren's Saddleback Bird Nest.
How about you? What events stand out as you think back over the Olympic Games? Share your thoughts below!