How to love Olympians when loving the "Olympics" is hard

By Jeremy Bridgman
It’s that time again! The Olympics are back, baby! Break out your American Flag and NBC Sports app to watch at work!
I stand by what I wrote four years ago, which enumerated my reasons for loving the games, but the IOC insists on undermining their stated point of the games. If I’m being honest with myself and you, it’s getting really tough to support The Olympics (TM). We’re in the middle of the unfortunately commonplace tidal wave of revelatory incompetence, human rights abuses, corruption, bribery, and general awfulness (Watch the recent episode of HBO’s Real Sports if you want a kick in the gut.) But despite the threats to human life -- just like in Beijing and Sochi -- the games will go on.
However, I am still and will always be a supporter of Olympians. 
My wish is that a humble fantasy game like this can draw the attention away from the pageantry and the slick production value and throw the spotlight onto the athletes. If we, as viewers and tastemakers and patrons, focus on the competition and the competitors, we can (hopefully) recapture the mission from the cartoonish villains who run the shop. This is not compartmentalization. This is an attempt to call out the corrupt system while still relishing the chance to watch lifelong athletes test their skills at the highest level. 
Thousands of hardworking teenagers have spent their life perfecting a skill on the remote chance that they could represent their country during the apex of competition. Unlike the Oscars, it’s a legitimate honor to even be nominated. 
And in these frustratingly divided times, I’m going to relish the chance to stand with my fellow Americans and watch some sport. We’ll probably have a few too many “Americas” and certainly cheer too loudly. But then I’ll get tears in my eyes when a fellow citizen gets to sing the anthem and soak in the glory. 
This is why we watch. This is why we play. Let the games begin…