“The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part; the essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well.” Pierre De Courbertin
If there is one thing that the current U.S. Presidential Administration has not failed to deliver on, it’s drama. Regardless of your political leanings, it is hard to argue that the current political climate is not short on any level of drama.
Fast forward to right now, location? Pyeongchang, South Korea. The latest drama? Openly Straight Vice President, Mike Pence and Openly Gay Olympic Figure Skater, Adam Rippon. If you’d like an update on that, click here, and here. Otherwise, read on.
One of the greatest aspects of the Olympics, and even to an extent, other large multi-sport events such as the Gay Games, Pan American Games, Asian Games, Commonwealth Games, etc. Is the experience. Being able to participate in such a large, spectacle of an event, for any athlete to represent their country, all their life’s work leading up to that moment, is truly remarkable. Michael Phelps, one of the greatest Olympians of all time, once said about his experience…
“Every day after I wake up, I think, ‘Wait… this can’t be real; I’m still going to wake up”
What truly makes the experience amazing, for athletes and non-athletes alike, is to go into the event with no ulterior agenda, they are simply there for the games themselves. That’s what makes the Olympics great, not winning, but taking part. With U.S. Vice President, Michael Pence, choosing to go into his role as the leader of the U.S. Olympic Delegation in Pyeongchang with an agenda, he is not celebrating or representing the Olympic spirit. As a leader, he is unbecoming of the qualities of a participant of the games and a true champion.
With statements such as… “We will not allow North Korean propaganda to hijack the message and imagery of the Olympic Games.” And of course, now his whole drama with Adam Rippon. It is clear that Pence is going into the Olympic Games with an agenda, and intention to hijack the Olympics to forward his own message. This is not what the Olympics represent, and it his disappointing to see such a prominent political leader distort the Olympic Message for his own purposes.
With Rippon choosing to decline the meeting Pence requested of him until at least after the games have concluded. Adam is choosing to take in the experience of his first Olympics to really enjoy all that it represents. His focus remains on his skating and the experience of being a part one of the largest Olympic Teams represented at the Games. For Rippon, simply taking part in the Games and taking in the experience like a champion, is what makes him a champion. No drama, no distractions, no agenda.
In the Olympics, as in life in general. Take the moment to enjoy it for what it is. Appreciate what is happening in the present moment, without an agenda. For doing that is how we can truly achieve greatness within ourselves.
If Pence really does mean what he tweeted in support of Adam Rippon and Team USA, he will drop the drama and drop the agenda. Enjoy the Olympic experience and become the best damn cheerleader that all of Team USA deserves.
“Olympism seeks to create a way of life based on the joy found in effort, the educational value of a good example and respect for universal fundamental ethical principles.”- Pierre De Coubertin
By Dirk Smith