I'm not much of a football fan, but I generally watch the playoff games and the SuperBowl. After all, by the time you get to the end of the season, the various teams have had time to fine-tune their strategies, work out any kinks, and fully integrate any new players into their overall playing style. By the end of the season, the teams should be playing at their best. Then they go through the divisional eliminations, and regional eliminations... and by now, the teams have been narrowed down to the best of the best. And that's when I enjoy watching football. I don't care who wins... and it's not unusual for me to applaud and cheer for both teams during the course of a game. I'm not really rooting for one team or the other, I'm applauding and cheering great plays.
But sometimes, you don't get that third 'best'. This year's football finals and SuperBowl are certainly a case in point. Some of the final playoff games were great games.. some were not. Living in New England, I watched the New England Patriots play the Denver Broncos... and unless you're living in a cave (in which case it's unlikely you're reading this post), you know that the Broncos won. And I'm fine with that, after all it's only a game. But the part that I found disappointing was that the Patriots were not at their best when they played the Broncos. Two weeks after watching the Broncos play a very good game, I then watched the Broncos play a not-very-good game in the SuperBowl. They didn't play their best, and they didn't win. Would they have won if they'd played their best? I don't know, and I don't care. I just know that they didn't play their best, and I was disappointed.
And now we have the 2014 Olympics. I don't figureskate, I don't snowboard, I don't ski, I don't luge... well, you get the idea. But I do enjoy watching all of those activities, when they're done well. And I don't really care who wins.. it's just a game. And, just as with the football teams, the participants have been narrowed down over a period of time, by a number of competitions, and we will be seeing the best of the best. But that still leaves one variable, one question. Are we going to be seeing the best of the best... at their best? I certainly hope so. But I can't help recalling past incidents where outstanding figureskaters inexplicably fell, where athletes had a cold or a stomach bug which affected their performance, where somebody's equipment failed. And I always cringe when that happens.
You see, I don't care which country wins the most medals, and I don't really care about someone's career, and I don't care about long-standing rivalries. What I care about, is seeing the best of the best... at their best. And after all, how could we expect any more than that?
So I raise my cup of tea in a salute to all the athletes from all the countries, with a fervent hope that each and every one of them is able to ski and spin and luge and curl and do whatever else they do, to the very best of their abilities.