What a rush when "American Idol" tryouts came to Salt Lake City last week.

I am a real fan, so the nightly news coverage showing the process was fun. It was amazing how many people tried out considering the odds against making it — even though many have great talent. They all came with such confidence and a dream that they can grab the brass ring.

The odds probably aren't much worse than other dreams we might have, like living on a golf course, flying to the moon or being the CEO of a Fortune 500 company.

No doubt your grandmother told you, as mine did, that brass rings are not what brings true happiness. The old "It's not whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game" theory.

But it's fun to have a dream. Kinda pulls us through the doldrums of life.

On our Wells Fargo statement there was a teaser for their promotion, "Someday Stories" — which asked people to submit stories about what their dreams and goals are. The contest (which is now closed) will award $100,000 to the grand-prize winner and $10,000 to each of five first-prize winners.

It reminded me of a book I just finished reading, "The Prizewinner of Defiance, Ohio," by Terry Ryan. The teaser on the book states, "How my mother raised 10 kids on 25 words or less."

What a great read. The premise isn't an easy one — small town, alcoholic father, children who just keep coming. However, the mother, Evelyn Ryan, is not only a very bright woman but enterprising and possessed of an indomitable spirit.

And she lived in the "contest era" of the fifties and sixties.

While she would slave at her ironing board, she would write jingles. And she became so expert at it that she kept the family ship afloat. She would peel off all the labels and keep wrappers and didn't mind searching through her neighbor's garbage to get the ones she needed to enter the contests.

I won't ruin it for you, but she was great because she had dreams and pluck enough to make those dreams come true.

"Winning is not a sometime thing, it's an all time thing," legendary football coach Vince Lombardi once said. "You don't win once in a while, you don't do things right once in a while, you do them right all the time. Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing."

Obviously, you usually need an indomitable spirit to be a winner at anything. But a little luck certainly plays a part in it.

Look at Olympic hopeful Paul Hamm, who chose to bow out of the Olympics when he hurt his left rotator cuff in July.

He was replaced by Raj Bhavsar, who told USA Today, "The first thing that comes to mind is that dreams can come true." Then he went on to say, "Unfortunately, this comes at the expense of a great athlete, Paul Hamm.

"My heart goes out to him. He did an admirable thing, and he will always be a hero in my eyes."

Surely a sentiment echoed by all.

"American Idol" won't begin airing until January, but the Olympics start Saturday. Brass ring (medal) or not, just getting there makes all the athletes winners in my eyes.

Let the Games begin!


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