The view from Grandad Bluff

Olympics: Much more than sports

Kyle Farris

Posted 3:46 p.m. Wednesday, July 21, 2021

My first memory of the Olympics came in the third grade, when I stayed up to watch the opening ceremony for the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City.

I remember the spectacle — elaborate dance numbers, unbridled patriotism following 9/11 — and the long wait to see Team USA emerge from the darkness and be introduced as the host nation.

I was glued to TV that winter, enthralled with sports I had known little or nothing about: curling, luge, speed skating.

That’s what I appreciate most about the Olympics. Even now, they have a way of drawing me in, of making me care about sports — no offense to luge — I would usually blow right past.

The Olympics are more than a sporting event. They’re a pinnacle of human athletic achievement. A melting pot of nations. A force for peace and diplomacy. A source of pride in one’s country.

And, every so often, they’re a chance to see UWL represented on a global stage.

With the Summer Olympics set to kick off July 23 in Tokyo, I interviewed five alumni and faculty who have participated in the Olympics — as an athlete, a trainer or physiologist, or one of the countless people working behind the scenes to ensure the Games run smoothly.

What stands out is the reverence they hold for this time-tested tradition. Whether their Olympic involvement lasted four decades or 44 seconds, they each cherish the memories, experiences and friendships the Olympics helped them create.

As someone who has made many Olympic memories of my own — albeit from the couch — it was a thrill to discover how UWL has contributed to the Olympics’ rich history.

I hope you’ll feel the same way.

Kyle Farris

Kyle Farris
UWL University Relations Specialist