A time for pride and unity

Every two years, something remarkable happens in terms of global unity — countries come together for friendly competition in the form of the Olympic Games.

Today marks the start of the two-week period where 82 countries will meet in Vancouver for the 2010 Winter Olympics. For two weeks, it doesn’t matter how rich or poor or how powerful a country is; the Olympics are a time to show there really is unity and equality among the human race despite everything.

It’s hard to imagine who wouldn’t have been cheering when Ethiopian Abebe Bikila became the first black African to win an Olympic gold medal in 1960. He finished with the best time in the marathon event, which he ran barefoot because that was the way he had trained, and none of the shoes Adidas offered him fit.

And though the Winter Olympics may not have the same prestige as the summer games, it’s still something to get excited about. There have been plenty of memorable moments that have happened in these games throughout history.

In 1994, U.S. figure skating frontrunner Nancy Kerrigan was attacked by a man linked to another U.S. skater and competitor, Tonya Harding, seven weeks before they would face off in Norway. Though Kerrigan was sidelined briefly because of the injury, she overcame it and took the silver medal in the ladies’ single competition. Harding finished eighth.

And in 1980, the young U.S. hockey team upset heavily favored U.S.S.R. in a semifinal game, in what would later become known as the Miracle on Ice. And it happened during a time of turmoil in the U.S., with the Iran hostage crisis abroad and inflation at home.

In that sense, it’s a time for national pride, too. Let’s face it: Everyone has qualms about his or her country, be they economic, political or social. The economy may be down, and you might not agree with what the government is doing, but surely you can cheer your country on to victory.

And even if sports aren’t your thing, the Opening Ceremony, which will be televised tonight, is an opportunity to broaden your horizons. The elaborate celebration showcases the hosting country’s culture and history. It’s a time for the country of Canada to tell its story to the world. The Olympic torch, which will burn for the entirety of the two weeks, will also be lit. It’s a moment of global significance that people all over will be watching.

So join in with the rest of the world, and set aside any differences. You don’t have to know anything about winter sports to show a little pride.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.