Wearing the Flag

I suppose the Olympics have always been an exercise in nationalism, despite propaganda to the contrary. I have quite consciously avoided the medal count page on my favorite sports sites, but let’s face it, that’s what people care about.

Then there’s the US basketball team, who recently pummeled some other hapless country to the tune of more than 150 points. In that game we demonstrated than we are better at basketball than some tiny nation, and that we are total dicks.

The rest of the world doesn’t see running up the score as such a big thing, but this is one of the things that’s supposed to make us better. Right? When you have the outcome in hand you think about those guys who will always talk about this game, a highlight of their lives, when they shared a court with the best of the best. Don’t shit on them. The trap: being condescending would be far worse than running up the score. But there has to be middle ground. Play loose, toss out a high-five when one of the other guys makes a good move. Maybe pass instead of shoot. Show a little respect, and have a little fun.

Which isn’t what I set out to say. This was intended as a grumpy-old-man episode about respect for the stars and stripes. It’s not a cape!

But if you’re going to wear the flag, or represent the flag in the arena, show a little class. The American Ideal is mostly a myth, but if you’re over in London with old glory soaking up the spilled beer on the table behind you, maybe that’s a good time to actually be who we say we are. A champion of the little guy. Someone who leads with a smile and is as trusting as he is trustworthy. Someone who will cheer for a great performance without regard to political boundaries. Always ready to help out a friend in need. While you’ve got our flag draped over your shoulders, be that ideal person, even if it’s just an act.

I’ll give you the cape if you live up to what it means.

A few guidelines for Americans visiting the games:
Don’t be loud unless there are Germans to drown you out.
As long as there’s no chance of losing, remember that it’s only a game.
When you meet a gold medalist in a bar, buy her a drink, and keep your opinion of rhythmic dance to yourself.
Heh. Rhythmic dance.
It’s the summer olympics. Hockey is… not hockey. But they still use the word.
Learn to say “thank you” in British. Use it often. Same with “please”. Even if you don’t learn any other words, you will do well.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *