Tuesday, August 14, 2012

TMTV (Too Much Television) or Watching the Olympics

I am embarrassed to admit it but I have spent the last two weeks watching television over four hours a day. But without the chocolate-covered cherries. Since I was a kid, observing the telecast of the Olympics has been a highpoint in my life. The visuals have stayed with me – moments of grace, strength and beauty performed by Peggy Fleming, Dorothy Hamil, Mary Lou Retton, Nadia Comaneci, and the Soviet darling, Olga Korbut. In the midst of the cold war with U.S.S.R. in 1972, a little sprite with pigtails named Olga would melt the hearts of the American media and public. Everyone was smitten by her. Gone were the geographical boundaries and political differences, all that remained was her engaging smile and amazing feats. She conquered gymnastics with charm, charisma and fearlessness; and her performance changed the face of gymnastics forever. She would go on to become ABC’s Wide World of Sports Athlete of the Year.  I can still see her routine in my mind’s eye.

Olga Korbut on balance beam 1972, courtesy Google Images

To me, the Olympics are the most motivating and invigorating event to grace my television screen (even with the annoying and cloying commercials). Watching the best of the best perform in a sport—any sport—is immensely inspirational. We know it takes thousands of hours (and days) of serious commitment to perfect a sport and to hone the machine that accomplishes that sport—the body.  Years or actually decades of years are invested. There are injuries, illnesses, accidents, time and money constraints that can interfere with one’s goal. And when you see the people who show up against these tremendous odds— well, it just is something else: it is magical.

Gabby Douglas on balance beam 2012, courtesy Google Images

There are so many stories that left me inspired and teary-eyed, and I know everyone who watched the summer games has a special affiliation for an athlete or a team that touched them. We all rooted for athletes from our land and other countries too, because it was about the individual's or the team's effort not their geography. I will not  forget the first Sunday morning I spent watching the Women’s Cycling Road Race. It was held in typically-British wet weather complete with slick shiny roads and water droplets on the cameras; and the thrill of the final sprint at the end after hours of bike riding by Marianne Vos of the Netherlands crossing the finish line inches ahead of Elizabeth Armitstead of Great Britain.

Marianne Vos at the finish line, photo courtesy Google Images
And I must say Great Britain gave us quite an Olympic show. They were not only great hosts but awesome performers as well, ranking 3rd in the overall medal count (after the U.S. and China) winning 29 Gold, 17 Silver, and 19 Bronze medals. They did their land proud and so did we. An amazing 46 Gold medals were won by the United States athletes who include: Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte, Missy Franklin, Allison Schmitt, Nathan Adrian, Matthew Grevers, Tyler Clary, Katie Ledecky, Dana Vollmer, Rebecca Soni, Gabby Douglas, Alexandra Raisman, Dave Boidia, Ashton Eaton, Allyson Felix, Sanya Richard-Ross, Jennifer Suhr, Brittney Reese, Claressa Shields, Kristin Armstrong, Kayla Harrison, Vincent Hancock, Jamie Lynn Gray, Kimberly Rhode, Serena Williams, Jordan Ernest Burroughs, Jacob Stephen Varner, and U.S.  Men’s And Women’s Basketball Teams, the Women’s Beach Volleyball Team of Misty May-Treanor and Kerry Walsh, Women’s Football Team, Women’s Gymnastics Team, Women’s Eight in Rowing, Men’s and Women’s  4x200m Freestyle Relay, Men's and Women’s 4x100m Medley Relay, Men’s and Women’s Doubles Tennis, Women’s Track and Field 4x100m and 4x400m relay, and Women’s Water Polo.  Furthermore, the U.S. captured an additional 29 medals each in both the Silver and Bronze categories—for a total of 104 medals, putting the U.S. at the top of the medal’s count.  China was 2nd in the medal count with 38 Gold, 27 Silver and 23 Bronze for a total of 88. I am utterly proud and inspired for our teams and each and every performer and athlete from every country present at the London Olympic Games.

The Amazing Michael Phelps, photo courtesy Google Images 
Equestrian Jumping, photo courtesy Google Images
Misty May-Treanor and Kerry Walsh winning gold, photo courtesy Google Images
In sync - synchronized divers, photo courtesy Google Images
Oscar Pistorius taking off, photo courtesy of Google Images
Colorado Olympian Missy Franklin, photo courtesy Google Images

Each day that I spent watching these athletes inspired me to get my sneakers on and run longer and faster or to put on my tank suit and swim harder and better. They say there are two types of motivation: Intrinsic motivation which comes from within and is the desire to do something because we find it enjoyable; and extrinsic motivation which comes from outside stimuli such as praise, awards or financial gain. The high-level of competition exhibited in the Olympics is a curious balance between these two kinds of motivation: doing something because it feels fabulous when you do it well, and then doing it harder because you may win that shiny round medal for your country and get well paid for a commercial.  All I can say is that these athletes from around the world motivated me to get off the couch (when I wasn’t watching them perform on TV, that is).  It was a good thing after all – all this television watching.  And when it ended, I was quite sad and felt a bit empty. But I take heart; in less than two years I will be watching the Winter Olympics held in Sochi, Russia, in February 2014. That’s when I will probably get out my snow skis and make better turns. Gotta go do some laps.




  1. I think you found example examples of why the Lympics does inspire us to watch and then put into practice our best physical activity. Again, the pics really work well to reflect your psoitive message.

  2. thank you very much for your kind comment!