I love sports. One of the mementos I've saved from my childhood is a faded, slightly out of focus black and white photo of me on my first soccer team. As a boy, I dreamed of winning the championship game with a spectacular last-second goal, and of becoming an instant hero to my teammates and everyone else watching.
In sports-crazy America, so many of our heroes are athletes. We identify with successful athletes because we, too, want to be winners. I will never be a gold-medal athlete, except in my imagination. When I watch an Olympic contest or professional game on TV, like everyone else I sometimes get mad and vent my feelings after a particularly lousy play. My wife says, "Why are you shouting? You certainly couldn't do as well!" But in my mind I can play with the best of them. I'm a winner. Doesn't everybody want to be winner? The only other options are mediocrity or failure.
In sports, however, not everybody can be a winner. Only one person or team in each competition will go home with the gold medal this summer. Many others will feel like national failures, constantly reminded by sports writers and fans how they let down their country.
I'm reminded of figure skater Tonya Harding and runner Ben Johnson whose win at all costs behavior brought them . . .