The Olympics has long been something I’ve loved to watch. Though I admit I love the summer games more than the winter, I cherish both of them. For a long time I’ve wonder what drew me to the olympics; was it the pageantry? The athletics? The diversity of sports and players? The playing of sports i’d never seen before?Well it’s yes to all of these but the true reason deep down, is the sheer human element involved. We learn the personal narratives of athletes from across the world and their struggles. We embrace them as kindred spirits; humans trying to succeed in the toughest moment for the highest prize. We begin to see ourselves less as people of one country alone, but as a country in a larger global community. While we cheer for our compatriots as they go for gold, we nonetheless have the capacity to be touched by and to root for athletes of different nations, races, creeds and colors. This was for me most prescient with the creation of the refugee team. When they walked out in the Opening Ceremony, I cried. I was so profoundly touched and moved by their stories and their drive. The fact that life had handed them a draw far worse than mine and had achieved so much more. These people would not let wars, political dissent and war torn nations define them. They defined themselves. A second vignette of this for me is the tennis competition. To say nothing of the intense and upset-filled tournament that sees Monica Puig guaranteed to be the first woman from Puerto Rico to medal and potentially her country’s first gold medalist and sees the resurgence of Juan Martin Del Potro, a former top 5 player hampered by injury playing for a medal. But aside from the stories, these athletes are all here. There is no prize money or ranking points at steak here. Many top players could skip the Olympics as it precedes the U.S. Open.  But they all show up and play in as many events as they can. Because they too see the greatness of this biennial coming together. This for me is the beauty of the Olympics. It isn’t just the pageantry, the festival or the athletics. It’s the biennial reminder that we are all human. We struggle, we fight, we live, we compete together. We can no longer over look their humanity because to deny that would be to deny something within us.

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