Well 2016, we are six months in and I don’t care much for you so far. You have certainly thrown a lot of curve balls and offered up a lot of obstacles. I have managed to trudge through it all, sometimes laughing, sometimes crying, but generally feeling a bit bruised and battered along the way. Even the good stuff has come with rough patches.
You’ve taken away several friends and colleagues, suddenly, and long before their time. Many friends have lost their parents. You have definitely made loss and mourning felt prevalently. It has hit very close to home how short life can be. This has made me very reflective and I have spent a lot of time thinking about how to make the most of it. Examining where I am at versus where I really would like to be. Looking closely at the things I love and that make me happy, and in turn identifying the things that no longer work. Strategizing about how to eliminate the things that are weighing me down and placing more emphasis on the things that help lift me up. Somehow I feel like this should be easier – but it isn’t.
There have been things I have truly enjoyed. I finally faced my fear of putting my own creative writing out there for public consumption by taking on the A to Z Blogging Challenge. I liked it, I had fun with it – I would like to continue to explore this avenue and find more outlets for it. Then there was Ireland, an amazing, brief escape. Reinforcing once again how much I love to travel and meet other people and explore other cultures. But you couldn’t see fit to allow me to have these moments of joy without bringing me to my knees.
So what gives, 2016? I know there are messages here for me. I get it. I’m listening. I’m trying. Could you ease up over the next six and let some things blossom? I would really love a bit more cooperation and fewer speed bumps. So here’s to a brighter, cheerier second half – may we reach the end with smiles and goals achieved.
Happy first day of spring! For me spring is like pushing the reset button. This year I feel like I need that more than in the past. I did not enjoy this winter at all, not even a little bit. I felt cooped up and cranky the majority of the time. There was hardly any snow – the least snowy winter in a long time. I think that was a part of my doldrums – I love snow, there is a magical beauty in snow. There was no beauty in this winter. It was dark, gray, bleak. This winter I learned how much I crave sunlight. The best thing I can say about the winter is it wasn’t very cold.
So after four months of a complete and total lack of energy or interest in much of anything, I’m hoping to start feeling more re-energized. The days are longer again. There is more sunshine! It feels really good too. Now that there is still daylight when I get home from work I can get out and start walking again, get some fresh air. I can open the windows and air out the house. That is always a welcome relief and the cats love it too. They run from window to window, noses up in the air, letting the breeze blow their whiskers, with their ears pricked forward listening to all the birds. Ahhh, the birds, it is so lovely to be able to hear all the different calls again. All of the animals are starting to perk up as well. The squirrels have a little extra zip; the chipmunks are running around the yard; and there was even a big old opossum wandering around the yard one night.
Although it is still very gray, there are signs of life all around. The lilacs have buds on them, the irises are poking up, and soon things will be greening up. So I can be a little more patient, and watch as the beauty slowly makes its way back, and in doing so renews my spirit as well.
“She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
"Winter is dead.”
~A. A. Milne, When We Were Very Young
The International Olympic Committee was formed in 1894 and gave birth to the modern day Olympics. The first of the modern games was held in 1896 in Athens, the same location where it all began in ancient Greece. The games have now been played for more than a decade! For me the Olympic Games is the ultimate sporting competition. The best of the best from all over the world come together to try and win what I think is the most valued prize in sports; Olympic Gold. Heck even taking the Silver and Bronze medals is pretty spectacular. Athletes have the potential to go home one of the top three in the world representing their sport.
When the games began, to be eligible to compete athletes were required to be amateurs. To maintain amateur status meant athletes were not allowed to make money from sports. For many decades this was strictly enforced. If an athlete was found to have accepted money or commercial endorsements he or she was banned from competition in the games. In fact one of the United States most revered athletes, Jim Thorpe, who won Olympic Gold in the pentathlon and decathlon at the 1912 Stockholm games, was stripped of his medals when it came to light that he played two seasons of semi-professional baseball before competing in the Olympics*.
The spirit of the Olympics - sportsmanship along with the love of sport was the driving force behind the Olympic movement and was held in high esteem. It was long thought that monetization of the events and the athletes would degrade the core qualities that the Olympics embodied: friendship, solidarity, and fair play.
The degradation of the Olympics as a truly amateur athletic competition seemed to begin when countries began government sponsorship of their athletes. It was felt government-sponsored athletes were in essence professional athletes, so a precedent for allowing professional athletes to compete was already being set. Then came television and ever increasing media coverage of the games. The popularity of the viewership was an advertiser’s dream. Between politics and the plethora of money that could be made from the games, and the athletes participating in them, it wasn’t long before the IOC began rethinking the amateur rule. In 1986 the amateur rule was abolished and professional athletes have been participating in the games ever since.
One of the first forays of Team USA into sending professional athletes is the 1992 Dream Team. Just three of the players named to the team, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, and Larry Bird, had already earned among them: 10 NBA championship wins, 7 NBA Finals MVPs, and 8 regular season MVPs prior to the games. Add Scottie Pipen, Charles Barkley, John Stockton, Karl Malone, Patrick Ewing, Chris Mullen, David Robinson, Clyde Drexler, and Christian Laettner and this was a powerhouse team. They averaged 8 years of playing professional basketball. Jordan, Ewing, and Mullen had already earned Olympic Gold at the 1984 games (all college players at the time). Yes, seeing all of this talent play together on one team had an extreme cool factor. It was an exciting prospect. But was it the right team to send to an Olympic Games?
Were they an amazing team? Yes. Did their presence at the games elevate the sport worldwide? Yes. Did they really embody what the Olympic Games are all about? I don’t think so.
Another factor that has impacted the trend toward professional athletes participation is the ability of many athletes to stay in it longer and still be competitive. While I support and admire their ability to do so, and while I would love for them to stay active and competitive in their sports, I don’t think they should continue to compete in the Olympic Games. I love watching Michael Phelps swim. What he has accomplished, 22 medals (18 of them gold) in three Olympic Games, is phenomenal. He likely will compete in his fourth Olympics in Rio. I’m just not sure I want him to. Yes he could win more medals and break more records; he’s exciting to watch and he will bring in lots of money. But when is enough, enough? How many talented swimmers lost their opportunity to shine because he wouldn’t step aside? Will gold number 19 be as sweet as the first?
The professionalization of the Olympics has long been debated and I doubt there will ever again be an Olympic Games without professional athletes. I wish, however, that it had remained purely an amateur event. I believe this is what made it special and unique, the ideal of sport for the love of sport.
Don’t misunderstand, I have no problem with athletes getting endorsements and winning money or being paid for what they do. They work and train damn hard. They are truly talented and deserve to be recognized for their talent. I don’t believe payment and endorsements should factor into their Olympic eligibility.
I do believe there should be some eligibility requirements surrounding the length of time they have been competing and the number of Olympic Games they are allowed to compete in. Perhaps this could be achieved by setting age limits or capping the number of games an individual can participate in. I would love to still see the Olympics as the rise of someone’s career. To come back after four years and defend – that is still exciting to me. To return for a third or fourth – I’d rather someone else have his or her moment.
Maybe I’m just a fan of the underdog. I love a great story of triumph against the odds. But will the professionalization of the Olympics ever again produce a Miracle on Ice? I want to see the Jamaican Bobsled Team and Eddie the Eagle compete! I want to see them succeed even if success is just making it to the finish line. I want to see competitors with a fire in their belly to achieve a life long dream. I want magic to happen!
Check back monthly for more Olympic updates and commentary as I countdown to Rio 2016! For information on all things Olympic in Rio 2016 visit http://www.rio2016.com/en. To follow Team USA visit http://www.teamusa.org/.
*Jim Thorpe’s Olympic titles were restored in 1983, 30 years after his death.
My heart aches today, not only for the people of Paris, but for the world we live in. A world that has gone mad. There seems to be no end to the senseless acts of violence perpetrated against innocent people. Over 120 people lost their lives, simply because they went out to enjoy living them. They were doing the things we all do on any given day, without giving it a second thought. They had no agendas or motives; they simply wanted to watch a concert, go shopping, catch a soccer match, or enjoy drinks and a meal. It is so difficult to understand the kind of hatred and extremism that would cut these lives short. It is also frightening to know this could happen at any time, at any place, any where in the world. It is crazy this is still happening in this day and age.
Why does it continue to matter what color a person's skin is, what faith they believe in, who they choose to love, what gender they choose to identify with? We are all human. We all breath, we have jobs, we have families. We live, we love, we hurt. How hard is it, really, to respect someone whether you agree with them or not?
Would anyone out there truly want to change a world full of diversity? I wouldn't want to live in a world where everyone believes in the same thing and looks the same way. I would find that so boring! People have stories; we can learn from each other, laugh with each other, cry with each other. A rose is just as beautiful as a lily, or an orchid, or any other type of flower. Think of how much beauty we would be missing if all we ever saw was the rose.
Every life in the world has meaning. Every life in the world matters.
These are my thoughts, personal stories, and personal opinions. Often triggered by something that transpires throughout the course of a day.
All content on this website is © Darcy Michele Scelsi