Why Olympics are important today Print E-mail
Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018 -- 12:00 AM

Ever since I was in the fifth grade — when we finally got a television set in our home — I have enjoyed watching the Olympics.

Since our daughter was a competitive figure skater for many years (and I am still a member of the Figure Skating Club of Madison), I have especially looked forward to the Winter Olympics to watch figure skating. I also watch some of the other events.

I believe the Olympics continue to be important in our world today.

Comaraderie among athletes

It has always been heart-warming to see the comaraderie among the athletes participating in the Olympic Games. This year about 90 countries are represented in the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Of course, there is fierce competition, but it always seems to be done in the spirit of good sportsmanship. It’s nice to see athletes congratulating their peers from other countries for a good job after the competition is over.

An avenue for peace

Besides being an athletic competition, I think the Olympics have a deeper meaning and importance today. In ancient Greece, the Olympics had a purpose of peace-making. During the Olympics, all conflicts among participating city-states were postponed until the Games were finished. Stopping of hostilities was known as the Olympic peace or truce, although some accounts say the Greeks never completely suspended their wars.

Today, we see such things as North and South Korea fielding a joint women’s hockey team, and both countries walking in together in the opening ceremonies.

The modern Olympics have been around since 1896. The Games did not take place in the years 1916, 1940, and 1944 during World Wars I and II. The Paralympics for disabled persons began officially in 1960, but an earlier sporting event was held in 1948 to promote the rehabilitation and healing of soldiers after World War II.

Bringing people together

Although there has sometimes been controversy surrounding the Olympics, we have to admit that the Games do bring people together regardless of politics and wars.

“The Olympics prove that we, as citizens of the Earth, still do have the capacity to join together peacefully. . . .  We can be fierce and we can be unique, but we can stand on common ground and fight for the same thing. If that mindset were to be harnessed, then the world could begin to be a much more pleasant place,” said Cassidie Smith in a blog post (

As we cheer for the USA and other countries’ athletes, let’s also consider how the Olympic spirit could indeed be harnessed to build greater peace and understanding in the world. We certainly could use that spirit these days!