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The Olympics and Unity

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I have always felt it was significant that the summer Olympics has generally taken place the same year as the United States' presidential election.  A few months before November (or, in some cases, a few weeks), Americans gather to celebrate being American in a world of so many people. We cheer on our athletes wearing the red, white and blue and display good sportsmanship when other countries compete against those athletes. We support those whose uniform is emblazoned with "USA" as well as solid performances and camaraderie from everyone competing. We sing the national anthem when Americans take the gold medal and show respect when others sing theirs. And when those American athletes come home, we gather to honor them and their accomplishments.  Then we go to cast our votes, remembering that we are a united nation, no matter what side we vote on to lead that nation. It is especially noticeable nowadays when an Olympics doesn't  happen in a presidential election year -

What Is It? A Light the Cauldron Halloween Special

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 I don't really understand the Izzy hate.  For those not aware, Izzy was the mascot of the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta. The organizers wanted to refrain from creating a mascot that was too reminiscent of other mascots in America. They wanted to make something unique.  And boy, did they! Critics and fans were not fans of this mascot from its reveal at the end of the Barcelona 1992 Games all the way till the cauldron was extinguished in Atlanta.  But you know who Izzy was made for? Kids! I was one of those kids in 1996, and I was raised on Animaniacs - another set of cartoon characters that weren't meant to represent any sort of animal (though many people on the show called them dogs - they weren't). Cartoons were kooky, animation styles were all over the map, and Izzy just represented another one of those animation styles. And this  one played sports! While the image above was the image broadcasted to the world the most, Izzy also was drawn (as all mascots of this

The Para-Athlete Movement

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  Note: I am writing this as a "short" writing example for some students that I am substitute teaching this week. But the subject has been on my mind! The fall of my freshman year of high school, one of my classmates was in a car accident and lost the ability to use her legs. She returned to school a few months later in a wheelchair, and our class rallied around her. She was exactly like she had been before the accident - the only difference was that she was wheeling around the buildings.  Adjustments needed to be made so that she could do things just like the rest of us, and I don't think anyone minded. She was in our touring choir, so either the churches needed to be handicap accessible or some of our stronger seniors carried her around. When we had end-of-semester concerts and graduations in the gym, the stage that was set up now needed a ramp. When it came to parties, chapel, classes, or even attending the football games, everyone made sure she could be included.  As

Track and Field Returns: Observations from Two Meets

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Well I made a determination that I would start posting every week starting in 2021, so it's kind of a fluke that I'm posting just a week after my triumphant return. But we had not one, but two  athletics competitions in Europe this week, so I feel compelled to share my joy of watching both those meets.  The first meet was the Paavo Nurmi Games, held in Finland on Tuesday. For all intents and purposes, the meet looked like a regular meet. Masks were not required by fans (and there were fans in the small stadium) and all the competitions went ahead as planned. There were throwing, jumping, and running events. The setup of the field looked like usual, too.  Finland has very few cases of COVID-19 at the moment, so their risk levels are quite low compared to the rest of mainland Europe.  (You might wonder why I'm mentioning these things. Stay tuned for the Diamond League information, and you'll know why.) Since the meet was a World Athletics (the name of the official governi

Let's Do This All Over Again

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 As C-3PO so eloquently stated in Return of the Jedi... As of the time of this posting, we are on the date where the Closing Ceremonies for Tokyo 2020 should have happened. I'm supposed to be finishing up a tour of Japan this week.  Instead, I'm here at home, trying to avoid people as best as I can, and wearing masks and socially distancing myself when I can't.  Oddly enough, the past two weeks have been pretty okay! I haven't suddenly gone into a depression spiral because this was supposed to be the time when I was going to be in attendance of the greatest sporting events in history (or at least the past two years). I think what really helped was that everyone  was dealing with this - not just me. I wasn't the only one left out. There was no FOMO because I wasn't missing out on anything!  Reading articles of athletes who have adjusted their training and watching videos of Tokyo's new plans have helped out a lot. It's clear that the world is in this toge

Postponement: Who wins?

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Nobody wins. Everybody loses. Just a couple of hours ago, it was officially announced that the Olympics would be postponed "beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021." This comes after a few days of heated pressure by countries' Olympic committees and official sporting bodies to have the IOC change the date of the Games. It was never going to be a win. This virus that has shut down most of the world means that everybody loses. Athletes who want to train? They lost. Coaches and officials? They lost. Spectators who planned their trips (like me)? They lost. People who looked to profit from the tourism boom? They lost. Organizing officials? They lost. Nobody wins. Everybody loses. It is immensely frustrating to see this all take place, but it could be worse. The word cancellation  came up so frequently that I had to stop reading social media again. Athletes and content creators make click-bait videos or articles with big words on their feeds: "CANC

Little-Known Olympics Videos

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Everyone watches the 4x100 meter freestyle swimming relay race from the Beijing 2008 Olympics. Everyone watches the Miracle on Ice from Lake Placid 1980. Everyone doesn't watch the handball final from Munich 1972. This week I have been very busy with my day job, so haven't had a whole lot of time for other things. However, I have made it a point to go onto YouTube and search some not-so-well-known videos from Olympics of the past. And boy, YouTube sure has a lot of those! Here are some of my favorites: The Official Film of the 1956 Melbourne Olympics Basically this official video treats all sporting events that aren't track and field like utter garbage. Honestly...it's like I made the video! Well, it's like I pushed every other event out of the way, forcing them to tiny montages instead of large profiles. I would not  have written a script with such sexist comments! Here's a paraphrase: "Look at these lovely ladies doing some shopping,