To the general excitement of the country, the British grabbed the silver medal in the men’s team gymnastics yesterday. Then in typical British humor fashion, disappointment reigned when their first medal in the sport since the 1912 Stockholm games was changed to a bronze. In watching the British games through the first few days, it is apparent that a unity exists in the country around hosting the games that is not usually felt in the United States.
The United States has hosted eight Olympics, four each in the summer and winter games. The summer games include: 1908 St. Louis, 1932 Los Angeles, 1984 Los Angeles and 1996 Atlanta. The winter games include: 1932 Lake Placid (New York), 1960 Squaw Valley (California), 1980 Lake Placid and 2002 Salt Lake City. Despite our proximity, the 2010 games in Vancouver were not actually the United States games. While thinking of all the great moments at the recent U.S. Olympics, the thing that has defined each was the city they were hosted in. Except for perhaps the Miracle on Ice in 1980, it was not America’s triumph overall, but the host city’s games.
The attitudes of the United States and Great Britain citizens are a primary reason for this divide. The English surrendered their super power label following World War II. They have existed as a country for over a thousand years and have a history filled with triumph and tragedy. The country is smaller and the citizens rally around their English heritage.
Americans on the other hand are more spread out. Unlike the British, who appear pessimistic about all matters of state, political battles have carved up the country. The English have the queen to rally around, Americans have different opinions about the flag. While the athletes that represent the country are for everyone, it is easy to sense a divide in the two country’s approach to the games. And one other fact; the American’s win more.
Missy Franklin, Michael Phelps and the U.S. Women’s soccer team and gymnastics team are worth rallying around in the coming weeks. The U.S. basketball team’s arrogance may show a little more of America’s true colors than we would like, but when it comes to hosting the games, Great Britain has shown that it’s about country. I mean, what 40-foot villain from the United States would be taken down by flying nannies as Lord Voldemort was by Mary Poppins?