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More Than Gold

More Than Gold by Stephen Neumann

Another Olympics has come and gone, leaving me to wonder what in the end they stand for.  The best athletes in select sports gathered together to compete and compare skills so as to be evaluated and given a rank.  These games can be looked at as a  microcosm of the world at large in many ways.  Competition exists in so many facets of our lives, but how should we determine success?  I feel that there is sometimes an unhealthy quest to be first and that anything less is looked at too often as failure.  Surely there is more to be valued and strived for.  

 I have long held a disenchanted view of the Olympics, judging them to be skewed by so many factors outside of athletisism.  Countries with larger population pools to draw from have an upper hand in such competitions, as do athletes with greater access to government or corporate funding.  A country’s climate and even culture can also easily lead to dominance in certain sporting events.  Where’s the competition in that?  It is for the above reasons that I had my reservations before the 2012 London Olympics even began as to whether or not I would enjoy them.

In the end, I did, at least as much as a cynic like me could, thanks in part to a certain outside factor.  I had forgotten about the humanity and stories of inspiration that make the Olympics so unique.  I had been mistakenly blinded by the shimmer and gleam of gold, silver and bronze medals as the only accomplishments to be achieved.  The true meaning of these games made itself known to me with the discovery of what some deem to be the most valuable prize awarded in the Olympics, The Pierre de Coubertin medal, which recognizes the spirit of sportsmanship.  I invite you to read up on the inspiring stories of generosity, selflessness and courage for which this medal is awarded. Accounts of athletes jeopardizing and even forsaking their chances of winning medals in order to help other (sometimes rival) competitors in need.  These are the values we should hold in highest regard and reward in all realms of life.  302 golds were won at the 2012 London Olympics alone, but only 15 people have ever received the honour of the De Coubertain medal since 1964.  I am now looking forward to the next Olympics and the possibilty that another one of these could be presented.

Lee Dong-jun  jack222@dongguk.edu

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