This stadium is beautiful

Sheesh! These Olympics, amirite?

Alright, sure they have a few problems, weather-wise, security-wise, transport-wise, planning-wise, and image-wise. But the fact is, they’re happening. Come rain or more rain, there’s no turning back. No matter how us general public feel about them.

And despite the perfect storm of greed, incompetence, inclement weather and impunity swirling just below the surface, believe it or not, there are actually some good reasons to get excited about them.

I like sports. Because they can be thrilling. And the Olympics brings together the world’s best canoe paddlers, trampoliners, and badminton players into one place at one time. No other event comes even close to assembling the quality nor quantity of cross-discipline jocks as the Olympics.

Also, as a guy who does a lot of different things reasonably well but no single thing brilliantly, I admire people dedicating themselves to any one activity with a fierce sense of purpose. It’s awe-inspiring and admirable. And I’ll get to see these individuals up close. Really close. Like just-outside-the-security-perimeter-around-the-massive-security-fence close. Or pressed-up-against-their-field-hockey-bag-while-waiting-for-a-tube close.

In fact, because I live in East London and, like most Londoners, I’ll be working at home for much of the Olympics, I’ll have around-the-clock propinquity to this Lollapalooza of sport. So there’s a high probability of me absorbing some of the that élan and excellence. It will be in the air.

Insider scoop
But I won’t be on the outside looking in the entire time; you see, we’re some of the lucky lottery winners who actually have Olympic tickets, so I’ll get to see some events (specifically diving and football).

And presumably those excursions will be great experiences. I mean I got really excited about tennis the other week (a sport I hadn’t followed until that very match), so I’ll bet I can get into diving. I mean it’s people jumping from dizzy heights and then flipping and twisting on their way to landing in a pool and trying not to splash. Objectively amazing.

And, if you’re open-minded enough, football can be exciting even if it’s a 0-0 defensive battle. In theory.

But owning tickets means I will be one of the privileged ones allowed to enter the Olympics site and see all the athletes and mascots and tourists and merchandise – possibly even take some pictures. At the risk of gloating, I think that will be a cool experience.

I’m not the only one getting excited about the Olympics

Gentrification bump
We live in Hackney, off Chatsworth Road, the vanguard of London East End gentrification. And it appears, more or less, to be handling the uncomfortable transition to ‘desirable/trendy area’ as well as could be expected. And the Olympics has hustled the socioeconomic change along, so we’re also getting a revitalized neighbourhood out of the deal. 

This also means cool new cafes and restaurants in our area. I’m happy about everything but the rent increases.

The missing piece
So even though I’ve managed to look past some huge problems with the Olympics and think positive thoughts about them, I recently felt like I was missing something. Then I realized what it was: I had completely overlooked the Paralympics. Once it hit me, it became obvious.

As much as the poetry and passion and dedication to the “Olympian Ideal” can be expressed by able-bodied athletes competing to the very edge of their abilities, that passion and story of personal courage at least triples when manifested by amputees, visually impaired and mentally challenged athletes.

Some quick research and an officially-sanctioned Visa card usage later, and now I’m going to see goalball at the Paralympics as well. I might even say that’s the event I’m looking most forward to.

Sucking it up
A lot of people aren’t excited about the Olympics, and to be fair there are no shortage of reasons. However, at the risk of sounding like an Olympics apologist, none of those reasons touch upon the athletes themselves, or their sports. So, I’m trying to remember the purpose of the games (excellence in sport and stuff), and compartmentalize the other junk (greedy incompetents et al).

Plus, there’s a huge international festival coming to my neighbourhood, and all the whinging in the world isn’t going to change that fact. So I’m going to put a smile on my face and attempt to make the most of it, Big Mac in hand.