We are past the mid-way point in the Olympics, and I have a complaint.
Let me preface my complaint with this: I’m not usually a hyper-patriotic person. I’m happy to express my patriotism when appropriate, but I don’t usually feel an exaggerated sense of pride during events such as the Olympics. I really like hearing the stories of International athletes, and I’m just not one of those people who thinks the good ol’ U.S. of A has the market cornered on everything cool in the world. But I’m starting to get a little annoyed with this medal count business.
The U.S. typically does well at the Olympics, winning all kinds of medals in various different sports. And just like my students’ test scores, these medals are splashed about the media, like it’s an indicator how much better “we” are than “they” are. I have reached the conclusion that regardless of the medal count at the end of this week, the U.S. IS the best, for the following reason…
An awful lot of American resources are spent preparing non-American athletes for Olympic competition. I’m thinking of Milorad Cavic, the swimmer “from” Serbia, who grew up in California and swam for USC. I’m thinking of Kirsty Coventry, who knew early in her career that her home country of Zimbabwe lacked sufficient swimming training facilities, so she went to Auburn University in Alabama.
I was just watching the heats for the Women’s 100 hurdles–a Swedish hurdler trains at Illinois, and a Canadian hurdler trains at Nebraska. These are just four examples off the top of my head. I’m sure an hour or two of dedicated research would show that quite a few Olympic athletes enjoy American resources to help prepare them for Olympic competition.
I am all for these athletes competing for their home countries, but I think the medal count issue is completely moot, unless home countries are training their own athletes.