You, me, and the Olympics

I know everyone’s excited and thrilled, and full of exciting excitement nowadays (trust me, I spend my days surrounded by sleepless people)… but I just have to get something off my chest:

I have absolutely no interest in the Olympics.

In my 26 years of being alive, I’ve watched an entire one Olympic event. Ever. That was back in 2008 (Beijing Olympics) when I went to a student’s house and it was on TV (basketball, I think). Honestly, I think that’s pretty impressive… but that’s coming from an non-Olympian such as myself, so who am I to say anything?

It’s not that they don’t have their own purpose, I just don’t really care about sports. I’d rather play them than watch them. It’s like watching someone read a book. Why don’t I just read the book instead? Is he a professional bookreader? But I digress. I think the Olympics are a good thing, good for international cooperation and–even more importantly–a good chance for people to show solidarity and a love for their country.

You see, that’s something that you don’t often get to experience here in Japan: love for one’s country. Now, certainly, a great deal of blame for WWII lays directly on the heads of overly patriotic zealots. Trust me. But I think the full reversal is also bad. There’s nothing wrong with loving your country and being proud of it, but due to the negative tradition that patriotism now has, people in Japanese are afraid of (even discriminated against for) being patriotic.

It doesn’t help that most of the “right wing”/”conservative” party members are insane and racist… no, that doesn’t help the image. But even if someone were to hang a Japanese flag in front of their house, it’s seen as strange and negative.

But where does this leave the vast majority of normal (not crazy) people? Isn’t it natural for humans to love and feel a connection with the group they belong to? “My school is full of the best people”, “My company is better than your company”, “My family is great!”, “my friends are amazing”? Maybe it’s just my American outlook on the world showing, but I think it’s great (even important) for people to feel a strong sense of connection with your nation. It pays for your social security, it keeps you safe, and it’s what you and everyone you live with have chosen,  democratically, to represent you.

So, though I may not be interested in the Olympics, I may not care about the results, and I really do just pray for them to end quickly, I can say that I think the sense of nationality they bring out around the world is a good thing. Everyone on the news talks about the camaraderie and friendship it builds… blah, blah, blah. Yes, that’s nice. That’s what the UN is for. But I think it also builds an important bond among the people within their own individual nation: it gives you an opportunity to support that young woman playing table tennis and to feel that she is representing you, your parents, and your children. That the man diving into the pool carries with him not only his own power, but the strength of you and all those you have grown up with.

Is that really such a bad thing?

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