In our opinion: Faster, higher, stronger: Olympians can teach the world how to do better
It is hard to imagine a more fitting rallying cry for our day than the Olympic motto "Citius, altius, fortius" (Latin for faster, higher, stronger). In a world racked by economic and political gridlock, a little extra speed, height and strength in any realm could go a long way. This year's Olympians might just have what it takes to teach the world how to do better.
As athletes convene in London for the summer Olympiad, the gaze and attention of the world turns temporarily from the mundane to sustained observation of human excellence.
We hope and pray that the only drama in these summer games comes from the honest and hard-fought competition of the participants, not from scandal or violence.
Over the course of the next two weeks, the world will have an opportunity not only to see world-class competition, but also to hear the inspiring life stories of the competitors. These are exceptional men and women who, in order to qualify for Olympic competition, have honed their skills over the course of a lifetime. Within almost every one of their biographies is a tale of adversity. Listen carefully and you will hear of injury, accident or personal setback that had to be surmounted before they found their way to this pinnacle of competition.
Some of those setbacks will appear before our very eyes. And tellingly, those setbacks often create some of our strongest Olympic memories. Who could forget Derek Redmond of Great Britain battling to get across the 400 meter finish line after tearing his hamstring, or Kerri Strug helping the American women's gymnastic team win gold by struggling through competition with an ankle injury.
Of course the sheer thrill of competition is what will attract most of the world's gaze, but so too will the spectacle, artistry and ceremony crafted around powerful symbols of peace, unity and accomplishment.
Consider just how valuable this kind of an event is for advertisers and media. The top 11 global sponsors of the Olympics have collectively paid the International Olympic Committee nearly $1 billion to borrow the Olympic brand (under strict guidelines) during 2009-2012. During that same period, broadcasters have paid up to $3.91 billion for television rights to the games.
There is some debate as to precisely how profitable such deals will prove for the companies that have made them. But think about how broadcasters and advertisers alike have made staggering investments in the belief that a desirable worldwide audience wants entertainment and brands representative of Olympic ideals such as discipline, effort, courage, competition and fair play.
In a media environment saturated with snark, sensuality and shock, how refreshing to have a globally embraced success of an event that appeals to universal values of sportsmanship, self-discipline and strength. Brand managers and media producers everywhere should take note.
We share the idealism of the Olympics. We hope that all who compete will find personal fulfillment through participation. We hope that all who observe will come away inspired by what the games represent for humanity and for human achievement. It's time for all of us to go faster, reach higher and be stronger.
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