Olympics: A time to celebrate

The Olympics.

The time every two years -alternating between the Summer and Winter Games -the athletes representing the world’s greatly divided nations get together for two weeks of competition. Where the various cultures meld into one in an Olympic Village and we learn once again that we are all God’s children regardless of such trivial matters as color of skin or where we are from.

Before this year’s Olympics got under way, the media was focused on the poor conditions in Sochi. There were stories of stray dogs roaming the streets, murderers on the loose and the can’t-write-enough-about-it differences over gay rights.

One week into the Games and things have gone off virtually without a hitch. Sure, we’ve all seen pictures of the unique latrines that can be found even in the hotel rooms. In the words of that famous Olympian gymnast Nadia Comaneci, “So what?”

Rather than focus on the political and cultural differences, this is a time for celebration. A time that reminds us that we can come together in peace and celebrate those who have earned the honor to represent our various nations.

It’s also a time for national pride. Even in our country we are so divided over various issues, political parties and even sports teams, we seldom unite as one. But you can bet those who tuned in on Saturday morning to watch the men’s hockey game between the United States and Russia fervently were pulling for the Americans to win that dramatic shootout that indeed resulted in the U.S. prevailing.

Of all the sports events that have taken place during my nearly 60 years on Earth, there’s no doubt the one that stands out the most was the Miracle On Ice when a group of U.S. amateur hockey players scored the greatest upset since David slew Goliath by beating a bunch of highly-trained professionals representing what then was the Soviet Union.

I was covering the West Virginia state high school wrestling tournament in Huntington that night and was so involved in recording the scores and details of the various matches that I had forgotten about the hockey game.

Then, one of my colleagues, Tom Waller of the Fairmont Times-West Virginian came in, sat down beside me and said matter-of-factly, “We beat the Russians.”

My first reaction was “Yeah, right.” But instead of expressing my skepticism, I told Tom to go tell the announcer and have him inform that crowd. That way either I would know it was indeed true or Tom’s little jig would be up.

He strolled down the aisle, talked to the guy with the microphone and when there was a break in the action, he announced the U.S. had won. To this day, it is the greatest single reaction to a sports score or live happening I have ever witnessed.

So my greatest Olympic memory involves a game I didn’t even see. But I’ve seen it plenty of times since.

Contact Dave Poe at dpoe@newsandsentinel.com