The Olympics make me come alive.
I’m serious, y’all. There is something about watching the Olympic games that really pumps me up. And I’m not alone. There is a special draw to the Olympics all around the world, pulling in more than your average sports fan.
Don’t get me wrong, I love watching baseball and I can really get excited at a college football game. But the Olympics are different. And I think I know what it is.
NBC does an incredible job at documenting the backstories of some of the most followed Olympians. So, instead of just watching a freak athlete on television that is far more talented in swimming than we will ever be, we’re watching a freak athlete on television that was contemplating suicide just a few years ago. We’re cheering on a sprinter that trained barefooted as a child because they couldn’t afford shoes. We’re rooting for athletes from other countries because they have escaped death and are now refugees.
We sit back amazed not only by their ridiculous athletic abilities, but also at their drive and motivation to overcome some of life’s most daunting trials.
It’s a beautiful thing.
We sit back amazed not only by their ridiculous athletic abilities, but also at their drive and motivation to overcome some of life’s most daunting trials. We see behind the curtain, and suddenly the athletic celebrity whose name is known in every home across America (and the world) is now… Human. Not immune to hardship.
While their backstory gives us a greater reason to cheer them on, it unites us. People of different interests, different backgrounds, races, and ethnicities are all watching the same thing every day for two weeks, following the same stories and relating to athletes from all over.
For example, the Olympic swimmer Lilly King is from Evansville, Indiana. Evansville, like many communities in our country, has faced years of division. Though, the local Evansville Courier & Press recently published an article about Lilly with a headline that says, “Lilly King: the most unifying force in Evansville history.” When I heard about this, Lilly King became my new favorite swimmer. Her backstory scored some serious points in my book.
I’m aware that this is not a novel observation about the Olympics. However, it got me thinking: How much more would we be rooting for the people in our lives if we knew their entire backstory?
How much more would we be rooting for the people in our lives if we knew their entire backstory?
At I Am Second, we believe in the power of sharing stories. And we don’t share people’s stories for the sake of simple entertainment, but for the sake of reminding others that they are not alone. Through sharing stories, through pulling back the curtain and stepping outside of the title we’ve been given (baseball player, CEO, gymnast, teacher, musician) we begin to see each other differently.
We truly believe that everyone has a story to share, and through sharing those stories and allowing our lives to be transformed, addictions can be beat, relationships can be restored, and silent brokenness can be repaired.
Though, we don’t have a Bob Costas narrating our backstories in real life. When you’re annoyed with your co-worker or your waiter at dinner, Bob doesn’t pop in to the scene telling you about their horrendous childhood, or that they’re spouse left them a few days ago. Most of our backstories remain hidden behind the curtain. Consequently, we feel little to no empathy for the humans we interact with every day.
But what if we took the time out of our day to know more about our classmate’s life? Would we begin to support the kid that used to bother us?
Odds are, the majority of the people in your life are hiding a backstory, and some of these stories may never be unveiled. However, I encourage you to seek them out. Ask them about their story, and share your story with them, no matter how ugly or scary it may be.
You may find yourself rooting for someone you once knew nothing about, and you may pick up a few fans along the way.
Former Olympian steps out from behind the curtain to tell her story: