Commentary: We need Olympic spirit after the games are over

Columnist says a sense of community support is missing from American life
Commentary: We need Olympic spirit after the games are over

By Derrell Connor
Special To Channel 3000

I am crazy about the Olympics.

I admit it. I’ve always been into it. I have an update app on my phone that tells me when the United States wins a medal. I turn on the television a couple of hours every night to see how it all went down.

The sports that I traditionally don’t follow on a regular basis — swimming, gymnastics, track and field, volleyball — I tune in religiously for two weeks every four years. And apparently I’m not the only one — NBC has been scoring record ratings every night since the opening ceremonies. Michael Phelps and Gabby Douglas are household names. We eat this stuff up. It’s an opportunity to wear our American pride on our sleeves. For two weeks, we are one. I enjoy every minute of it.

It’s the other fifty weeks that concern me.

Don’t misunderstand me: I love America. It’s the greatest country in the world, and there’s no other place that I’d rather be. It’s a place where you can come from nothing and achieve great things. And while there have been great struggles and problems and issues over the years (what nation hasn’t?) America is the place where you can make your dreams come true. 

I just wonder why don’t we have that kind of Olympic spirit on a regular basis? 

After what’s been happening around the country over the past several years, most recently in Aurora, Colo., a couple of weeks ago, in Madison with University of Wisconsin football player Montee Ball last week and the Sikh temple shooting in Oak Creek this past Sunday, I wonder if we’ve lost some sense of pride — for our country, and for our fellow man. 

We’re supposed to be better than this. We’re the country that thousands come to every year for a better life, to escape war and persecution. We’re supposed to be a leader in education, technology, health care and peace. And most of all, we’re supposed to look out for each other. And while we still posses many of the qualities listed above, I feel like something is missing.

A couple of years ago I wrote a column about the fact that “big mamas” had become extinct in our neighborhoods. Back in the day, she was the eyes and ears, the one that always knew where us kids were supposed to be and what we were supposed to be doing, and she wasn’t afraid to tell your parents when you were doing something wrong.

Today, many families keep to themselves. They don’t know their neighbors, and they will tell other parents to mind their own business when their kids are involved in wrongdoing.

We have become segregated from each other, and we seem to prefer it that way. It seems as if it’s every man and woman for themselves nowadays. And while I don’t think that it could have prevented what happened in Colorado or Oak Creek, I do think that getting to know one another and looking out for each other can prevent quite a bit of the crime that we see on our streets today.

Yes, I realize that it starts at home with the parents. But I do believe in the saying that it takes a village. Look at how the village has come together for the Sikh community in Oak Creek after the tragedy last Sunday. You can’t tell me that it doesn’t make a difference.

Maybe I’m being naive. Perhaps I’m asking us to go back to a time and era that’s long gone, and won’t return. But after witnessing the pride and support that many Americans have shown for this diverse group of United States Olympians participating in the 2012 Games, maybe all is not lost.

It’s certainly worth a try, isn’t it?