Summer Olympics Stories

Twenty years ago the Olympic Summer Games were held in Seoul. I was in fourth grade at the time, but I remember watching Greg Louganis hit his head on the diving board during one of the diving events. When my dad came home from work, I remember telling him all about it. It’s odd that of all the things I could remember from 1988, this is one of the memories that I can clearly still recall.

But that was 1988 and my love for watching the Summer Olympics had just begun. The 1992 Games in Barcelona was when I really got into the Olympics. I remember having a miniature basketball hoop in my downstairs basement and shooting around during commercials in between NBC broadcasting the events from Barcelona. The USA basketball dream team was established and easily won gold that year. The games were orchestrated beautifully and in many ways put Barcelona on the map as a global city.

The 1996 Atlanta Games were exciting, although in retrospect I should have tried to attend, given that it could be awhile before the games come back to the United States (Go Chicago for 2016!). Other than the Centennial Olympic Park bomb, the Atlanta games were pulled off successfully and paved the way in technology, security and athleticism for successive summer games.

The 2000 Sydney Games were special to me. The events started literally weeks after I returned from Japan, where I had lived for a few years. The university I was attending at the time was filled with international students, including many from Australia, and I enjoyed watching the various events in an international setting with students who cared passionately about countries other than the U.S. This was also the first Olympic Games where Internet coverage of the events was widespread and easily accessible. The Internet had come along way between 1996 and 2000.

During the 2004 Athens Games I was in New York and had just taken a summer job for the interim period between moving to New York and starting law school. After unsuccessfully looking for something that catered more to my interests, I finally decided that I just needed a job and found a position on Craigslist working at the Empire State Building. I did some English and Japanese sales in the basement and on the 80th floor of the building to tourists that had come to visit the Observation Deck on the 86th floor. It was not a great job and I planned to be there for only seven weeks prior to starting law school. The Opening Ceremonies were to start on Friday August 13, 2004 and I was looking forward to watching them, but would have missed some the Ceremonies due to my work schedule and the commute home. So that Thursday night, the night before the Ceremonies, I walked out. I left my work t-shirt and a note on my supervisor’s desk and left that job. That Friday night my wife and I enjoyed the Opening Ceremonies. Needless to say, that short-lived position at the ESB has never made it on to any resumes or references lists I’ve created. And I haven’t been on the Observation Deck since.

Now, four years later, I sit at my job on the night before the 2008 Beijing Olympic Ceremonies. I will be watching the Ceremonies tomorrow night and will be a captive spectator throughout this entire Olympics. I am just happy that I get to do so without having to walk away from my job.

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