Go world!! (Or, how I came to love watching the Olympics with strangers)

On Friday night, two hours before the Olympic Games’ opening ceremonies, my husband and I dug our tiny TV out of storage and plugged it in, hoping beyond hope that somehow we would get a signal.

Of course, we didn’t, since the thing is a relic from those analog days of yore.

Since a converter box and rabbit ears were going to cost the equivalent of 12 pints of craft beer, we decided to get the beer instead. Our Olympics-watching has thus been confined to stints in local pubs and the limited coverage on NBC.com.

At first, I was dismayed. I am in awe of these athletes, who demonstrate the incredible capabilities of the human body. (I especially love the gymnastics, and I’ve decided that my favorite American is Gabby Douglas, who has completely melted me with that always-present winning grin.)

Two nights ago, my husband and I were at Turp’s watching Michael Phelps race. We didn’t know anyone around us, but we found ourselves joining in the audible reaction as the whole bar turned toward the screens. There was cheering, there was sighing and a few chants of “USA! USA!”

And it occurred to me – THIS is the way to watch the Olympics.

For me, one of the great things about the games is the camaraderie it builds among countries, along with a healthy competition. For 16 days, we have a tangible common bond with people across the globe. It seems like a celebration of being human – that’s why I’ve been known to get a little choked up over those VISA commercials that culminate in “Go World.”

Yeah, I think! Go world!!

And that’s why it’s really great to watch the Olympics with a crowd of strangers. The Olympics are unifying across class, race and political persuasion. For a moment, we can raise our glass and celebrate our country with someone inclined to a completely different array of bumper stickers. Especially during an election year, it’s good to find something that brings us all together.

Catholic Review

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.