This weekend, I had no intention of watching the Summer Olympics. In fact, I didn’t even know they had started. But as I caught the tail-end of the opening ceremonies, I remembered why the Games are so great.

Tired of watching lazy, uninspired athletes? Give the Olympics a try.

Tired of watching lazy, uninspired athletes? Give the Olympics a try.

In less than three weeks, more than 11,000 athletes from 204 countries will compete in 28 sports and 302 events. Think about that.

Here in the USA, we like to call our winning professional sports teams World Champions, but only on a stage such as the Olympics can that title be truly determined.

To me, there’s something special about an athlete from a remote country reaching the medal stand in pride, representing their country like we as Americans can’t understand. I have no idea what the 10m air rifle competition is, but Abhinav Bindra just won the event, bringing home India’s first individual gold medal. Elnur Mammadli did the same for Azerbaijan in judo. For them, it’s everything.

My occupation is a sports writer, but the Olympics make me realize how little I know about sports. I have no knowledge of badminton, equestrian, trampoline (I swear it’s an Olympic sport), synchronized swimming, or water polo. What I do know is that these athletes have prepared a lifetime to represent their countries in the hopes of bringing home a medal.

There’s never a question of effort or desire during the Olympics. Let’s face it, whether it be game No. 113 of the MLB season, No. 52 of the NBA season, or that Week 16 NFL game between two teams with nothing to play for – the effort put forth by mulit-millionaire athletes can be downright disheartening.

Whether you like a particular sport or not, it’s captivating to watch an ahtlete who’s devoted their entire life for one moment and competes with relentless passion. 

Don’t worry, by Week 1 of the NFL season I’ll have forgotten all about the Olympics. The Games are not something I anticipate, but when they come around, I can’t look away.