Inspire Confidence – The 2018 Winter Olympics

Sometimes life gets away from us, Andrew and I are swapping days this week. You’re regularly scheduled Burst of Insight will appear on Thursday.

I make no pretense that my blog here is anything other than the things I experience then make up some flimsy excuse to connect it to gaming. With the XXIII Winter Olympics happening in PyeongChang, you can bet that I’m not likely to pass up an opportunity to speak to this global event that focuses on individual strengths, teamwork, hope, and perseverance.

History of the Olympics

The Olympics were originally dedicated to the Greek gods and took place in Olympia, Greece in 776 BCE. They took place for almost 12 centuries, until 393 CE, when they were banned due to their Greek pantheon religious component.

In 1894 Baron Pierre de Coubertin founded the International Olympic Committee and in 1896 the first modern Olympics took place in Athens, Greece. Founded on the desire to highlight the amateur athletes, the ideals of sports, and “athletic chivalry”.

The Olympic Stadium in Athens during the 1896 Olympic Games. Getty Images.

If there is one thing that Olympics has strongly embodied is this sense of chivalry – it is not uncommon to see Olympians and observers to reach across team lines to help one another in the struggle for personal achievement. Norway will always remember this ski pole. There is even a special award given for extreme shows of excellence in good sportsmanship – The Fair Play Award. Here is a collection of some other significant and memorable moments.

The Olympics hold a significant place in the hearts of many, they can exemplify the best humanity has to offer. Olympians from around the world train and gather to compete. While watching this year’s opening ceremony, there are many countries in tropical areas who have sent single competitors, some who have dual citizenship and seek to represent their family’s heritage rather than joining the teams of larger countries. Representation matters.

2018 Olympics and their lessons

I’m writing this mid-Olympics, not all of the events have taken place, there are still medals to be won, and there are still many tears of frustration and joy to be shed. There are individual events and team events, some of the competitors participate in both. While the bulk of my viewing is focused on Curling, Hockey, and Ice Skating of some kind or another, I try to dip into other events because you never know what you’re going to find there – the Olympics are the only place I can watch Curling and they are solely responsible for my love of this game of skill and strategy. Now on to the lessons!

  1. Train hard and give it your all – the Olympics happen once every 4 years but there are other competitions, take them seriously to sharpen your skills, you may only get this opportunity once, live it large.
  2. Gain perspective – even though this may be their only opportunity at the Olympics, they aren’t the only thing the Olympians will be known for. In my opinion, one of the best part of the Olympics are the personal stories of the Olympians, they have jobs or school, they have other plans for their futures, and some cases we get to see former Olympians reporting on the sport they participated in. It was pretty neat to see both Scott Hamilton and Tara Lipinski sharing their memories on the anniversary of their own medal wins.

    Pita Taufatofua of Tonga took up cross country skiing, practicing on sand for 12 weeks to satisfy his dream to participate in both Summer and Winter Olympics. Image from ABC News.

  3. Love what you do and do what you love – As I mentioned before, there are Olympians from all over the world who are the only competitors from their countries. There is only one gold medal in each event, it’s clear that the chances of anyone winning are small, but anything can happen in an event. Top competitors have already had bad showings in their events. But every single hopeful Olympian has one thing on their face as they marched in the opening ceremonies – joy and hope for what they are there to do – it is this moment that draws me to watch the Opening Ceremonies. They are there with hopes to win, but ultimately the experience is the reward.
  4. Get back up – falling is a common problem in sports – there’s skating, skiing, and sliding going on all over the place, gravity has its own ideas on these things. There have been some pretty epic wipe outs this year, but getting back up and going on is part of the game. When you fall down, you get back up.
  5. Lean on your support – it’s heartbreaking to see competitors who worked so hard but something went wrong. Their coaches, family, and other team members are there to lend support. There’s a reason they call the area where figure skaters wait for their scores the “Kiss and Cry”. Also, check out the speed skating relays if you want to see serious teamwork – think roller rally meets track relay racing.
  6. National pride – It is fun to cheer for your country’s team and feel their excitement and pride. I’ve been “watching” the Olympics with my friends all over the world through the internet, it gives us a sense of community even though we can’t be together right now.
  7. Global pride – It’s okay to cheer for the other team too, they’re working hard and sometimes you just can’t help but root for everyone, this is about personal accomplishment.
  8. Smile and wave – even if your performance wasn’t everything you hoped it would be, smile and wave like you meant to do it like that.

South Korean figure skater, Yuna Kim, lights this year’s Olympic Cauldron at the Opening Ceremony. Getty Images, 2018.

There are a few more days of Olympics, Closing Ceremony takes place February 25. Take some time to watch them and cheer for the competitors. You can still watch the earlier competitions on streaming services. You can see the occasional live responses by me on my Facebook page, because I love the Olympics like that.

Monica Marlowe

Monica Marlowe is the 2015 Paizo RPG Superstar. Winning the contest launched her freelance game designing career. Her winning adventure, "Down the Blighted Path" and PFS scenario "Captive in Crystal" are available through Paizo. She’s publishing additional gaming materials under Marlowe House and through 3rd party publishers. Monica is also active in the ongoing education in gender, sexual, and racial equality in the gaming community. Driven by a desire to see a more diverse gaming community, Monica has joined the Know Direction network to help and encourage all gamers, veteran and new, to find their voices. Monica lives in southwest Ohio with her husband, Andrew, and 2 children, Kate and Thomas.