Olympics for All
Rooting for the Ones We Love
It has already started. Even though I’d told myself that I wasn’t that interested, I have begun to lock in. It happens every couple of years just like clockwork. I join billions of people around the world deeply invested in the lives, stories, trials, and triumphs of strangers.
It is known as the Summer Olympics. A few weeks ago, I was searching for something to watch on television to pass a little time before bed. I scanned the channels and found an Olympic qualifier event. I don’t even remember what the event was, but I found myself engrossed. I couldn’t turn away.
I discovered a new cast of athletes by heartwarming introduction videos that made me feel like I knew them. The next thing I knew, I was rooting for them to succeed. For the ones that qualified for the Olympic games, despite the fact that I never watch or pay any attention to their sport for years at a time, I’ll be tuned in to cheer for them. I want them to do their very best. I want them to win. I want them to succeed in all that they do.
I’m looking forward to seeing Allyson Felix compete in her 5th Olympic games. At age 35, many didn’t think Felix would be able to make another Olympic track and field team after her long road to recovery following a challenging childbirth.
All eyes will be on Simone Biles, who is the most decorated American gymnast of all time with a combined 30 Olympic and World Champion medals. Biles’ early life included being in temporary foster care with her siblings before her grandparents adopted her. In 2018, she was one of the women who spoke out about the sexual assault perpetrated by a former USA Gymnastics physician. Throughout her life she’s shown resilience and tenacity.
These incredible women are headed to the Olympics, and I’ll be rooting for them every step of the way.
Over the summer, our excitement and interest build in rooting for the thousands of athletes from around the world competing for Olympic glory who we don’t even know. This can provide us an opportunity and model for how we should go about rooting for our own friends, family, and community.
The intense fervor that causes us to jump to our feet, applaud, yell, and fist pump for our favorite athletes can’t be reserved just for those we don’t really know. Imagine if we all rooted for the people in our lives with that same vigor and high vibration. It would be transformative. This summer, I am committing to rooting for the people who I watch television with just as much as for those who I’ll be watching on television.
I’m going to be rooting for my dearest loved one who’s recovering from a mental health setback because I know she can pull through and feel her best self. I’m going to root for my friend who after many years has been able to find herself back at the head of the class in a new teaching position. I’m going to be rooting for my friend who’s trying a new approach to achieve and maintain what he believes is an ideal body weight and good health for himself. I’m rooting for my buddy who is taking a leap of faith and moving across the country to a new city for the first time in his life. I’m even rooting for my precious nephew who has been trying his best to take his first steps. He happens to be named after an Olympian and greatest boxer of all time.
No matter whether they are small steps, big steps, or extraordinary leaps, I’m cheering for all my loved ones and all those in my sphere. We are all doing our best, perhaps not competing on the Olympic stage, but just trying to navigate this thing called life, and at some point, we all need to hear and feel someone supporting us. This summer be reminded of that. Root for your home team. And don’t forget to root for yourself! ▼
Clarence J. Fluker is a public affairs and social impact strategist. Since 2008, he’s also been a contributing writer for Swerv, a lifestyle periodical celebrating African American LGBTQ+ culture and community. Follow him on Twitter: @CJFluker or Instagram: Mr_CJFluker.