I'm a sucker for the pageantry and symbolism of the Olympics, even more than the competition (which we in the U.S.A. don't get to see live anyway). So tonight's opening ceremony was stirring and spectacular, just what I was hoping for. The Aussies did a magnificent job. Any extravaganza that includes that many power ballads is worth watching.
The parade of nations is always colorful, with athletes in national costumes, some relaxed and others nervous. It's an emotional event, with each country, large and small, getting the same simple introduction to the crowd. I could have done with a bit less coverage of the U.S. basketball players, and maybe a bit more of the archers and water polo players. The reaction in the stadium to the two Koreas marching in together epitomizes the peaceful aspirations behind the games.
I don't know how many times I'll be brought to tears over the next two weeks, but if NBC does its job, it'll happen at least once every night. It doesn't take much. The moving story of an athlete overcoming impossible odds is easy to invest with emotion.
But I save my weepiest moments for the medal ceremonies. There are so many poignant patriotic hymns, and I love to see the faces of the winners as their national songs are played. Let's just hope we don't hear the same ones too often.
One thing NBC did right was to have Bob Costas anchor the coverage. He gives weight to any even he covers, because he balances reverence for the occasion with a quick with and a keen intelligence that few other commentators can match.
I'll be looking forward to seeing what stories unfold as the games go on. I'm hoping for something as positive as the spectacle I saw tonight. I believe in the Olympic spirit, as a symbol of hope that people from diverse backgrounds can come together in peace and fellowship. But I'm not na´ve that I think any political rivalries will be resolved or animosities eased by a sporting event. It'll be two weeks of magic, and then back to reality.