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

Are you taking the Dry January challenge and not having any alcohol for the month? Or, maybe you plan to drink less (but not nothing), which makes it Damp January. Or, maybe this is the first you’ve heard of it. (If so, there’s still time to start!)

Well, nothing much has changed from our approach to Dry January last year, except the one who had started drinking more last year is continuing the trend …



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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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It’s January, and everyone’s probably tired of reading about New Year’s resolutions.

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Not me. Since I never make them, I never feel the need to read about them.

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Of course, you don’t. So, what should we write about?

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How about that we celebrate some of our favorite things in January?

So many “National Days” in January are fun (we’ve written about them over the years) and remind us of some of our favorite things. (Can you pick which are Red’s favorite holidays and which are Black’s?) And whether or not you make resolutions, it’s always important to have a sense of humor and enjoy the simpler things in life …

Answer: Red’s favorites are Bagels, Popcorn, and Hugging. Black’s are Clean Desk, Bagels, and Backward.

Wishing you Happy 2024 – with new beginnings and much more!