U-S-A! U-S-A: The Olympics and Patriotism
For two weeks every other year, nations from all over the world come together in one place to celebrate either winter or summer sports. These events have been transpiring since 776 B.C. in diverse places from Athens, Greece to this year’s location of Pyeongchang, South Korea. Pyeongchang is in northern South Korea, which has created controversy due to its proximity to communist North Korea. Earlier this year however, South Korea invited North Korea to participate in these 2018 Winter Olympics, which will hopefully be a further example of the international cooperation these events bring.
One of the most inspiring aspects of the Olympics is the patriotism that it incites not only in the Olympians but the people of the countries that they represent. From traveling internationally to Pyeongchang or staying at home with family and friends, many Americans participate in the Olympics in some way. Matt Barresi is travelling to Pyeongchang to experience firsthand the patriotism of the 2018 Winter Olympics: “The Olympics are are an amazing experience. Everywhere you go people are decked out in their countries colors, waving their flags and singing their anthems. It is a high school pep rally on steroids. When you have the chance to meet athletes and their families, it is powerful to hear their stories filled with personal passion and commitment. When you hear them say their only desire is to carry the U.S. flag onto a podium you are filled with pride and to see it happen live is simply amazing. Yet for all of the national pride you also find an invite to participate in cultural respect.”
If not there in person on the nights of the opening and closing ceremonies, one is very likely going to hear someone chanting “U-S-A” or wearing red, white, and blue. Millions of Americans will crowd around the T.V., eagerly waiting for the announcers to get through the alphabetic list of countries until finally Team U.S.A. makes its appearance. They are hard to miss due to the eruption of cheers that always comes with their appearance. The U.S. also always has one of the largest teams, this year bringing 243 athletes to South Korea. In between these ceremonies, Olympians will compete in 15 different competitions to find out who is the best in the world for their sport. Team U.S.A. has contenders for gold in most of the events, ranging from returning gold medalists Shaun White and Lindsey Vonn to promising newcomers Nathan Chen and Chloe Kim.
A final component of Olympic pride is elation viewers feel for the contestants that get to live out their dreams on an international stage. Seeing the contestants who have worked their entire lives for this moment of honor, one cannot help but feel national pride that they live in a place with such talented people. Maggie Mullaney ‘19 gave her opinion of the Winter Olympics: “I love watching the Olympics because it is always inspiring to see the passion of the athletes as they achieve their dreams and represent America.” This also ties into the idea of American exceptionalism because Americans become obsessed with medal counts and winning as much as possible during this short period of time. We want to show the international community the strength of the United States in all aspects possible. This combination of influences often results in a patriotic America during the Olympics, and this year’s events in Pyeongchang are no exception.