British pride is different pride
It was great to be on the ground in London, watching the coverage of the 2012 Olympic games with a GB national slant, and (when no Americans were in the hunt) rooting for a home town team. There is something different about the Brits and their team GB pride compared to what I’ve experienced my entire life watching sports from an American perspective – and I can’t quite put my finger on it.
It may be due to the fact that British expectations were all over the map leading into these Olympic games. On the surface, I think many Brits were expressing their signature British snark and utter lack of enthusiasm, while all the while deep down they wanted to have something to celebrate when all was said and done. In the lack luster first week, the snark became snarkier – but as the medal tally ticked up through the second week of competition, the city illuminated (literally, many of the prominent buildings around London displayed light shows. But figuratively, there was an energy to the air). I can’t tell you the number of times this week I’ve heard terms like, “that’s a good lad” as a British competitor held off, or overtook, another charging into the finish line (watching Mo Farah’s INCREDIBLE finish to the 10k at a local pub was about as good as it got). City parks with big screens were packed with viewers until the screens went black and chaperones encouraged folks to go home (or more likely, to the bar), and pubs were overflowing with happy hour-ers in post work garb sipping and shouting.
The level of knowledge about individual athletes – regardless of sport - also seemed deeper than what I’m used to at home. It didn’t matter if it was Jess Ennis, GB’s unofficial face of the games, Mo Farah, or Sir Chris Hoy – the Brits knew their team and knew every bit about them. And the ongoing celebration seemed more emotional. Maybe it’s that in the states we have gotten beyond a certain point of expectation, where victory is not only assumed, it is almost requisite. We’ve seemingly grown complacent, and we are caught up in so many other activities that we don’t pay the same type of attention to our athletes competing abroad.
Whether or not this is a reflection on American sentiment across the board, it is a little unfortunate. I will say that I have yet to fully experience a home games in the States, and maybe when I get the opportunity to, the attitude will be similar to what I experienced in GB. And for anyone who makes the argument that the Olympics are a poor economic decision, I am fairly certain that the inspirational performances Brits saw out of their countrymen will inspire a new generation of Olympic athletes, and encourage a large segment of the general population to get off the couch and get active – at least in the short term. And this you can not put a price on. No matter what, it was a hell of an experience getting to be in the epicenter of the games for 2012, even if the beer is kinda flat and kinda warm.
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