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Saturday, March 04, 2006

Cheer Internationally!

At the olympics, in women's figure skating the gold went to Japan's Shizuka Arakawa, silver went to the U.S.'s Sasha Cohen , and Silver went to Russia's Irena Slutskaya. Which one of these did you cheer for? In some countries, the most common answer would be "the person from my country" (if one of the three were from their country). Although, it's very common to find that people will cheer for athletes from an opposing country. This, I believe, is not a bad thing - not at all.

In fact, that's what the olympics is all about - people coming together and supporting one another based on their admiration for eachother's style, personality, uniqueness, and various other abilities - rather than what nationality they are. If someone finds inspiration in, and develops respect for the abilities of athletes from other countries (other than their own) - well then there'e no reason that they shouldn't cheer for them! Especially in something like the olympics!

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Perhaps I owe this open view, in part, to my family. As a young girl, when I would watch the olympic games with my dad, he would always say, "Lets cheer for this country. They havn't gotten a medal in years," or "Lets cheer for that country. That guy on their team had such a hard time trying to get to the olympics." My mother and brother would make similiar assertions as well.

My link to the Sasha Cohen article above (if the article still exists) tells the story of a prominent U.S figure skater, from this winter's Olympic games. The article says that if Cohen won gold it would "bring the U.S. its third straight olympic gold medal."

Therefore, I wasn't that sad - not sad at all - to see Japan's Shizuka Arakawa take the gold (especially when it was Japan's first gold medal in that event, and also their first gold medal of the Torino games. Furthermore, the finesse, power, and artistry of Arakawa's skating left no doubt,in my mind, that she truly deserved to take home a gold.

I also wouldn't have minded to see Russia's Irina Slutskaya win gold. She went through a lot to make it to Torino, and only succeeded because of her incredible strength and determination. If it weren't for her self motivation, she never would have skated and won silver on the rink below.

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Here is an article on Irina Slutskaya that, if you read it, will probably cause you to be an admiring fan of Slutskaya as well. She is level headed and willing to pull through seemingly anything to achieve her dream. I don't see how anyone could let the fact that she isn't from their country stop them from cheering for her!

Part f the reason, I believe, that people here often cheer for athletes of other countries is because of all the "personal or emotional stories" that our media so commonly elaborates on. The news tells us so much about specific athletes, that we almost start to feel like we know them. Sometimes, these television desscriptions even generate enough interest that they prompt people to look up further information about foreign athletes online.

My guess that these televised bios is what helps us develop interest in out of country athletes. This is a slightly educated guess, because I was talking to a Japanese friend of mine a year ago. . . . I told her how me and my family would often cheer for athletes from other countries, plus our reasons for doing so, and she basically said that people wouldn't do that quite as commonly in Japan. So, I asked her if, in Japan, they ever have televised bios of athletes from other countries (the kind that really make you feel like you know those athletes), and she said no. Apparently, the Japanese media doesn't focus on back stories and what's "behind the scenes" of the olympics - or at least not in the same way that ours does.

In summary, everyone who watches or participates in the olympics cheers for someone. And, in choosing who to support, people rely on a either personal preference, nationalism, any information they recieve via the media, or a combination of these things - along with other wide ranging, most likely uncountable, factors.


At 2:15 PM, Blogger JJ said...

Another thing that is drawing interest to international atheletes is the world baseball thing thats going on right now. Pretty cool.

At 11:22 AM, Blogger snapdragon said...

world baseball? - I did not know that was now. I should watch the news for that.


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