It’s that time of the year again. It seemed like yesterday when we departed from Atlanta. Tomorrow, the torch lighting, the fireworks and the parade of athletes begom the games in Salt Lake City.

The Olympics have always been one of my favorite events. It is not just a chance to demonstrate patriotism. The Olympics remind everyone that despite cultural differences, athletics and the art of competition exist worldwide. In the pool, on the slopes and on the courts, athletes are simply athletes.

Hopefully, we will all remember that as the next three weeks unfold.

The events of Sept. 11 stirred a sense of terror around the world, but especially in America. It is easy in the aftermath of the tragedy to distrust and stereotype foreigners as investigations are unravelled. After all, the call for top-notch security and surveillance at this year’s events is a sign of the increased sense of protection and awareness. Moreover, it has struck a loud chord in homeland pride and has cast a spotlight on the love for America.

In recent months, we’ve been inundated with flags ? from homes to posters to clothing. With the Olympics in the next few weeks, there will certainly be a lot more.

The display of red, white and blue united the country as each American paid tribute to the heroes of the tragedy. It was also nice to have moments of sentimental remembrance at all of the sporting events.

The names of the Sept. 11 victims being scrolled during U2’s performance at the Super Bowl last Sunday was a dose of reality that was much needed amongst all the frills of the half-time show. After such moving performances, it is hard to believe that performers and audience members had once forgotten the words of the National Anthem.

But everything has its limits. What we must remember for the Olympics this year is that we should not go overboard with exhibiting pride that we forget what it really means. In this media-driven sports industry, it is important not only for athletes, but also for every American, to keep focus on what is significant about sporting events, especially the Olympic Games ? the fact that it is a world celebration of athleticism.

Bigger Picture

It is true that we should support our representatives at the event, but it is key that we do not lose sight of the larger picture. We should not buy into commercially-wrapped gimmicks of American pride. Instead, we need to learn how to feel better to win, instead of winning to feel better.

True pride for one’s country is from within ? it should exist in every citizen from every country. It is demonstrated in sports through athletes as they compete with determination, dedication and passion. It is not something that can be neatly packaged and be sold.

The Olympians are a great example of what pride and patriotism is all about. They are not only showing off their talent and skill to the world, but they are also teaching us a lesson on the unifying power of athletics.

With that said, let the games begin.

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