Every four years, countries around the world come together to compete in the Summer Olympics. This year's events in Rio have been no disappointment, with the United States men and women throwing up gold medal performances in many different sports (17 gold, 13 silver and 16 bronze as I write this, but those numbers will be drastically different by Monday I am sure!). There is something about the Summer Olympics that just gets me absolutely hooked—I find myself sitting on the edge of my seat as I watch live streams on NBC all day and night. Seeing all of these incredible athletes, not only from the U.S. but from everywhere, does nothing short of inspire me and leave me awed. So here are five reasons why I am a huge Olympic fan and why you should be too (but wait, Katie Ledecky just won the 800 free so bump that number up to 18):
1. Nothing can bring a nation or nations together like sports.
The sheer amount of camaraderie among athletes before and after competition is incredible. They all respect each other so much, always congratulating one another for a job well done after a win or loss, whether they are on the same team or not. Let's face it, if you're good enough to make it to the Olympics, you have to be pretty damn talented even if you go home without a medal, and every one of them knows that.
2. You get to watch sports you don't normally get to see.
I'm looking at you, track and field, the sport closest to my heart. So many sports are underrated by the public. When I turn on the TV on any normal day, I'll usually see basketball, baseball, American football or golf. And I am not trying to put athletes who compete in those sports down, because they work hard and deserve recognition, too. But rarely do you get to see sports like gymnastics, swimming and diving, rowing, fencing or cycling so it makes it fun and interesting, especially watching someone like Simone Biles effortlessly soar through the air.
3. Watching athletes of Olympic caliber inspires me to become more.
As a collegiate athlete, I watch the Olympics and am in complete and utter disbelief that a person can do what these athletes can do. I look at Americans like Phelps and Biles who seem completely confident and completely unbeatable and I want to be that. I want to do what they do. (UPDATE ANTHONY ERVIN JUST WON GOLD IN THE 50 FREE! Make it 19!). Their hard work and dedication inspire me more than ever to put everything I have into the sport that I love to be the best that I can be.
4. Watching athletes live out their dreams makes my heart happy.
To work that hard and to get to that final moment and have it all pay off—the look of happiness and joy and sometimes astonishment that happens when they realize that they have won bronze, silver or gold—that is the moment that I love to watch. The feeling of standing up on that podium must be the highest high in the world. And when I see any American athlete standing up there, singing along with the national anthem, and crying tears of joy, sometimes I cry too.
5. The Olympic Games make me proud to be an American.
For all of the above reasons and more... The accomplishments, the sportsmanship and the absolute joy brought about by the Olympic Games make me proud to say that I come from this country. This country that is so full of hard-working, talented, and absolutely astounding individuals who deserve every bit of glory that is brought about by the games. A BIG congratulations to them all!
And we are only a week in! Keep it coming! #Rio2016