Words & Banter

It’s About More Than Medals. It’s About People.

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Now that the Olympics are over, I'll admit that I didn't watch much of them. But years from now, what I'll remember, besides the impact of COVID-19, will be gymnast Simone Biles removing herself from competition because of a mental health issue. Obviously, it was totally unexpected and sad, yet so inspiring as people – from other athletes to fans to broadcasters to celebrities – rallied behind her.


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When she came back to win the bronze medal on the balance beam, she explained how it meant "more than all the golds." I believe that looking back, she may find that this was her most important and far-reaching Olympics, as she not only shone a light on the importance of mental health, but she changed the narrative making it ok to not be ok.


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Absolutely. But I also loved seeing the various clips of her cheering on her teammates and even congratulating competitors. The other thing I'll remember is that story you sent me about the two high jumpers who were tied for gold when the bar was raised to the Olympics-record height, although neither of them made it. They were going to decide the winner with a jump-off until one of them asked if they could have two golds.


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Apparently, they are friends on and off the track, but the spirit of sportsmanship surpassed even friendship in this case. At the risk of sounding warm and fuzzy, which is your area of responsibility, that is one of many stories about athletes helping one another, celebrating with each other, showing kindness towards each other, even in the face of disappointment.


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It reminds me of why I loved watching the Olympics when I was growing up – the love and joy of sports where winning was the ultimate goal but not to the point where it overshadowed everything.


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I think for many, if not most, athletes, that is probably the way they still feel. Or, if you were to watch the Olympics via TikTok (some great stories and links), you would see the "human" or what you refer to as the "mere mortal" aspects of the Olympics. Unfortunately, from a bigger perspective, the Olympics has "succumbed" (for lack of a better word) over time to outside forces as it became a big business, influenced by politics, and the controversy of performance-enhancing drugs.


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Please save that for another day. I don't mind talking about the history of the Olympics dating back thousands of years, but if we're talking about modern times, I prefer to focus on "feel good" stories. I always have. Even when I watched it as a kid, one of my favorite parts of the telecast was all the athlete profiles.


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It is the power of stories. And the fact they are not only world champion athletes – they are people. The stories and profiles can be inspirational because it shows they are more than just skills, it shows the humanity, the hard work, the dedication. And, oftentimes, the trade-offs and disappointments.


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I know that over the decades, there have been so many inspiring Olympic moments, but the most memorable, at least for me, are the personal ones about the athletes. And this year, my biggest "take-away" will be Simone Biles and her extraordinary achievement in coming back to win the bronze. She showed you should never count someone out, especially if they not only have unfathomable athletic skills but the heart and commitment to facing challenges head-on and overcoming them, even when those challenges are deep within themselves.


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And that, to me, is the essence of the Olympics. The world records and medal counts may be easier to track, but it is the impact and ripple effect of the athletes that will stay with us once the games are over.
Photo by OnTheRunPhoto for iStock


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I keep getting emails about where to go for mocktails. I know alcohol-free cocktails, like Virgin Margaritas, have been around for a while, but I’d never heard that term before. Do you think it has to do with New Year’s resolutions?


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It can if any of your resolutions are to lose weight, save money, sleep better. Or, drink less. Psychologically, January is the month when we “reset”, so a UK-based organization, Alcohol Change UK, started Dry January, where you abstain from drinking alcohol.


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Perfect timing since many people shop, eat, and drink more than usual over the holidays.


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I know you used to drink a glass of Cold Duck on New Year’s Eve, a tradition going back to our childhood, but that hardly counts as drinking. But, I have always wondered why you rarely drink, but never asked.
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Popcorn! Quite simply, it’s one of my absolute favorite things. Starting when I was a child, whenever I went to the movies, I’d get (and finish!) the largest bucket of popcorn available. And I always thought movie popcorn was far superior to what you could make at home … until a recent trip to visit a close friend in Tennessee, and she introduced me to Great Northern Popcorn (I promise this isn’t a paid ad). Now I’m addicted to it as I can make it on my cooktop. I know Black would be more interested in the science of what makes popcorn pop, but I prefer to just be obsessive about my popcorn …

Popcorn. Just the thought of popcorn makes me smile, makes me want to indulge, makes me happy. And I’m guessing my popcorn obsession makes Black roll her eyes (although she might admit it can be a healthy snack). However, plenty of people must love popcorn as much as I do. Why else would there be a National Popcorn Day?!

Over the past few years, the pandemic posed challenges that none of us could’ve foreseen (and I’ll never forget the dedication of the front-line workers or make light of the sacrifices so many had to make). But part of me has to laugh at the irony because it ended my seemingly easy “escape” from the stresses of life – going to the movies and enjoying the largest bucket of popcorn – when I needed it the most.

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Design by Sawyer Pennington, Underlying photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash


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You’re going to roll your eyes, but lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about myself.


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That is totally out of character, unless you are thinking of New Year’s resolutions.


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Actually, no. For decades, my priorities, and therefore my life, have always been focused on the girls and Mom. But that’s all changing. And I’m not sure how to “change” with it.
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