Words & Banter

The Olympics – Memories & Money

Photo by Mawardibahar on iStock

I used to love the Olympics. It was all about, as the introduction to ABC’s Wide World of Sports would say, “The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat.” But it was so much more. As one of my favorite parts of the Olympic coverage was when Olympic host Jim McKay (I’m showing my age) would profile athletes, bringing their backstories to life, making the events more personal, touching, and, often, dramatic.

And today? Well, at the risk of sounding like an old person and the yearning for “the good ‘ole days” when the Olympics were about sports, athletes, and medal counts, it now seems like the word “politics” has cast its ugly shadow on the Games. The “backstories” of the Beijing Games are about protecting our athletes (not just from COVID, but from China hacking cell phones) and whether we should even be competing because of China’s human rights abuses. An Olympics with diplomatic boycotts, and China and Russia using the opening ceremony to declare a “partnership”.

All of which I found myself saying to Black, then making the innocent (or so I thought) comment of wondering why the Olympics just can’t be the way it used to be. For the record, it was a rhetorical question. I didn’t want an answer, I wanted to stroll down memory lane. But Black, of course, felt the need to reply,


Follow the money. The Olympics is big money, with sponsorships generating billions of dollars of revenue and global corporate sponsors spending hundreds of millions of dollars. When we were growing up, it was a sporting event that unified the world, if only for a few weeks. (Plus, there were only a handful of television networks – no cable, no streaming, no social media). Now, it is a commercial event. “Wanting to win” used to be about national pride, now it seems to be about market share.

I knew what she meant and thought about all the “marketing” behind the companies like Ralph Lauren dressing the U.S. Olympic team, but preferred to think about the athletes talking about how they felt when they wore the team uniforms. A feeling of being part of something bigger than themselves, a culmination of years of hard work and dedication, about doing their best for their country. About pride.

But what about when there are moral implications? I know the athletes don’t get to decide where the games are held, but when the host country is one that we have serious humanity issues with, shouldn’t the Olympics and its sponsors stand up for what they believe. I couldn’t help but ask Black, this time hoping for answers, but instead got questions,

If you are the International Olympic Committee with so much money on the line, plus so few countries willing to go to the expense of hosting, especially given the complications due to COIVD, what do you do? If you are a sponsor, who “claims” to value social responsibility (companies are even rated by environmental, social, and governance criteria), how do you make decisions about a country like China that is such a huge business opportunity, even if it is politically intolerant? How many people, let alone companies, do you think have the guts to stand up and do what is right versus what is profitable? And, is there a longer-term price that will be paid?

Maybe I’m being an ostrich, but I didn’t want to think about the future of the Olympics. Instead, I thought about the millions of fans worldwide who love the Olympics and need them more than ever before as they look to them for diversion and inspiration. For me, I’ll look forward to the backstories of this year’s athletes and enjoy my memories of past Olympics vs. wishing that I could change the realities of today.

Photo by mevans on iStock
Let’s be very clear. Autism has no correlation with intelligence; it’s a developmental disability (or what Black refers to as “DIFF-abilities”). And it’s a spectrum disorder, which means each autistic person has their unique mix of abilities, challenges, and ways of seeing the world (can’t that be said of all of us?!) So, as we celebrate World Autism Acceptance Week, remember it’s more than just awareness – it’s about acceptance.

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Did you know that April's Autism Awareness Month? I wasn't aware (pun intended) of it until I read our local homeowner's monthly newsletter and it caught my eye.


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Actually, last month the founding organization, the Autism Society, changed "Awareness" to "Acceptance" to foster inclusivity, as knowing about something is very different from accepting it. But I am guessing that is not the point of this call.


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Although it isn't autism, it reminded me of years ago when we found out that Natasha has learning disabilities.


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I think you mean DIFF-abilities.


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Of course, that's another thing I remember. I was focused on the negative aspects of her diagnosis until you asked me, point-blank, "Why are they called disabilities?" And proceeded to explain that everyone has different strengths and weaknesses.


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Exactly! Imagine the world if everyone excelled at math, but flunked English. Or, a world of lawyers, but no musicians. Some people are better at social skills, while others excel at handling technical data. Why not just say that people who have different skillsets and abilities have DIFF-abilities versus making them feel like they have shortcomings?
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Design by Sawyer Pennington, Underlying photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash


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As much of a history buff as I am, I’m embarrassed to admit that for a long time, I didn’t know March was Women’s History Month. But now that I do, I’m amazed by all the inspirational stories of women’s remarkable achievements.


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Too bad Natasha and Sawyer do not still live at home; it would be fun to start a conversation by asking them what women they find inspiring.


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I already know who they would pick. The first woman to race the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. And I’d have to agree with them. Your Ferrari racing has made an impact on so many people. But especially girls.


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Until you mentioned it several years ago, I never thought about that. In the 1970s, I was one of the few women in business school. I then made a career in the male-dominated oil and gas industry. I am used to being a “token” female.


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Trust me. I watch people whenever we’ve done speaking engagements. It’s predictable ... we put up the family tree, and Natasha and Sawyer get awws, but your two racecars get everyone’s attention.
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Image by filipefrazao on iStock

Were you like Red and shocked when the actor Chadwick Boseman died at the age of 43 after battling colon cancer for years? Cancer isn’t only for older people, and recent studies show more people under 50 are getting cancer. (Doctors aren’t sure why but suspect it may be due to less physical activity, more highly processed foods, and new toxins.) That’s why cancer screenings are more important than ever!

February may be Cancer Prevention Month – but we need to do it all year! Every year. And is why we’re rerunning last year’s post …



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I know that cancer isn’t the “death sentence” it used to be when we were growing up, but it’s still a very scary word. Especially if it’s heard “close to home”.


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When we were young, the word was rarely said. And if it was, it was whispered or referred to as the “ c-word.”


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Kind of like when I had my two miscarriages. No one wanted even to acknowledge, let alone talk about, them. Which made it all the more difficult to get through it, although intellectually, I knew it was not uncommon.


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Unfortunately, neither is cancer. It is the second-leading cause of death in the world, surpassed only by heart disease. But, at least, it is no longer a taboo subject.


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Please don’t make this about numbers. It’s about people. Which you should know. I’m sure you remember when Daddy was diagnosed with parotid gland cancer , which luckily was treatable. And I’ve had skin cancer, although I was very fortunate, it was caught early and easily treated.
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