February 18, 2014
I’ve been enjoying watching the Sochi Olympics over these past ten days, as I’m sure many of you have. Besides crying during the commercials, I’ve also found myself moved by many of the events and athletes, even getting into events I’d never previously been drawn to – like bobsled and ice dance (though I still have not succumbed to the charms of the biathalon).
When we speak about Jewish athletes, I think back to the famous scene in the movie Airplane, where when a lady asks for some light reading material, and the stewardess suggests, “How about this leaflet, ‘Famous Jewish Sports Legends?’”
Times have changed. While Israel sent five athletes, there are a handful of Jewish Americans competing in the games as well. One of them is 19-year old figure skater Jason Brown, who was an absolute pleasure to watch: ponytailed, exuberant, clearly taking great joy from what he was doing – and skating beautifully, too. He seemed to demonstrate what sports can still be like before they are hijacked by corporate culture.
Another joy is to see the global support for the LGBT community in the wake of the draconian anti-gay laws that the host country put into place. Billie Jean-King, who was named to the presidential delegation for the closing ceremonies, said, “I want the LGBT community living in Russia to know they are not alone and I hope others realize this is not only a gay rights issue, but a global concern for human rights and equality…I hope these Olympics will be a watershed moment for the universal acceptance of all people