Once every four years I get myself excited about archery. And badminton. And whitewater kayaking. Not doing it, just watching. Between Olympics, I don't even think about those sports, but I'm glad so many people do, because they're actually quite entertaining. I'm very happy to see people from Italy and Japan trying to hit a target the size of an orange with an arrow from seventy feet away (or whatever it was; I'm fuzzy on the details).
I like the big events, too, and I'm not above a little national pride when it comes to softball and soccer and water polo. I want the U.S. teams to do well, but I can also get behind the Iraqi soccer team, or swimmers from Zimbabwe, or a Chinese gymnast who's tired of finishing second in the big meets. I'm inspired by the valiant comeback effort of Paul Hamm and the heroic last-second win by the New Zealand basketball team. (They're the Tall Blacks, you know.)
And I love the losers as much as the winners. More even, because it's easier to identify with a 47-year-old tennis player in her first Olympics than a 19-year-old swimmer who's expected (expected!) to win eight medals. I admire the way the world's top-ranked male tennis player, who embodies the essence of the Olympic spirit, handled losing in singles and doubles on the same day. It was exciting to see the British mixed doubles badminton team, who played with such fire, come within four points of an unprecedented upset.