Watching the Olympics Is Voyeurism

I’ve watched a grand total of about 30 minutes of the Olympics. That’s on purpose. And while I may not be watching the Olympics, I hear people all day commenting on what they’re seeing on their flat-screen televisions and reading online, so I get the overall gist of the experience.

Photo 115--Watching Sports

“Did you see that volleyball player? Holy cow! And she’s so humble and such a team player.”

“Those swimmers are just amazing! Their dedication to put in all those hours in the pool to get to the Olympics is really something.”

“That’s so sad what happened to the gymnast who broke his leg! How horrifying! I really feel for him. He worked his whole life for this.”

“Can you believe that soccer team was down by a goal with 15 minutes to play and they came back to win? That took so much guts!”

In the time I haven’t been watching the Olympics, I’ve been spending a lot of time with some truly spectacular people. That’s on purpose too.

I know a man who about a year ago experienced a very difficult break-up of a long-term partnership. I’ve seen him in some hard places. I’ve also seen him embrace the healing and transformation he needed to do. I’ve seen him embark on a self-prescribed graduate-level course in self-love and relationship. I’ve seen this man become a truly amazing friend to several people. He’s consciously crafting his ability to give and receive love and he’s doing a great job of it. I’m cheering for him!

I know a woman who day in and day out is raising an adopted son with all of her heart. Several years ago, she traveled a long way from home and effectively said, “Come with me. I’ll take care of you.” She’s made a family for him. She’s raising him. She’s preparing him for a thriving adulthood. He’s growing up well, already stretching the boundaries and looking for his independence. She’s raising this son all by herself by the way. I’m cheering for her!

I know a man who has seen unthinkable things in war and has suffered a great deal as a result. Now I see this man thriving as a leader of his community, giving love to so many people every day. When the medical system didn’t have all the solutions he needed to help him heal after war, he took it upon himself to heal himself through spirituality and great living. He’s doing an amazing job of that while helping so many others to be their best selves through both his work and his relationships. I’m cheering for him!

I’m so nourished by my relationships with these people. They live each day with great courage and persistence. They are truly, fully, alive. It’s in my relationships with them, and not with Olympic athletes I’ll never meet, that I choose to place my admiration and compassion. Watching the Olympics is voyeurism. It’s misplaced living. It’s watching people live with emotion. For all of us, there are people to cheer for right in front of us. People living with emotion every day. These are the people I think we should all be cheering for in our lives. Are we giving our friends our all? How about our kids, our neighbors, our colleagues? Trust me, I feel for that gymnast who broke his leg too, but I bet there are people a lot closer to all of us who could use our support through healing an injury or overcoming a disease or through other challenges. People we can look in the eyes. People we can hug. This is where the real living is.

In our culture, people often talk about how sports are a great metaphor for life. They speak of how we can all learn from the teamwork and communication of a water-polo team, the focus of a pole-vaulter, the persistence of a cyclist. I propose a reverse model. What if field-hockey players watched film of couples working together to create a loving family for themselves and their children as a model of teamwork and communication and applied it to how they played their sport? What if archers watched film of a teacher or surgeon practicing their craft day in and day out and used it as a model of focus? What if runners watched film of everyday people overcoming major disease and used it as a model of persistence?

To really thrive, we must live the life right in front of us with the people here with us. There’s simply so much rich opportunity in doing so.



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