There’s something amazing about holding an Olympic ticket in your hand. Even when you know someone has one for you … once you finally get it in your possession, once you finally touch it, the neck hair leaps out of your body.
It’s not the price, though the price is ludicrous. The ticket I used for entry into the Aquatics Centre on Wednesday night had a £295 face value on it. I did the math. That’s like $57,000 (maybe it’s less. Note: I did the math.)
It’s not the novelty, though where else are you going to get to watch track cycling, swimming and fencing all in the same day? Where else would you want to?
It’s not the exclusivity, though only the “in crowd” is there. The Aquatic Centre in Olympic Park holds about 17,500. It’s intimate. And you do feel lucky to be one of the few people in the world holding a ticket for something the entire world is about to watch.
But it’s more than that 1 in 400,000 lottery ticket.
It’s the fact that you – little old you – are about to witness something that happens once every four years. Four years.
That’s an eternity. Think about it this way: The iPad came out two years ago.
No matter what you witness; whether it’s triumph or defeat; exhilaration or disappointment; ecstasy or agony … it will be a finality.
There are no second chances.
Doesn’t matter the sport. Whether it’s Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt, Mariel Zagunis or Kim Rhode, what each are about to accomplish (or not accomplish), they won’t get the chance – the chance – to try and do (or redo) again until 2016.
You can’t help but get caught up in it. Swept up in it. The nationalism is one thing. But the bigger part of the excitement – the momentous part – is the permanence.
Because lets face it, in this ever-evolving world, four years is as close as we get to permanent.
What we witness in London will be decisive. What we witness will be the reality until Rio.
Save them for the annuals. Second chances are for the NFL and the NBA. Second chances are for the Oscars.
Here in London, there are no second chances.
Sure, on paper Tyson Gay has a “second chance” here in London. But come on. Four years later, the fastest man is rarely four years older.
It’s a phenomenon, an absoluteness that’s almost entirely Olympic.
In “our” sports, there are eternally second chances, there are always redemption stories. How many times have you heard a Cubs fan say, “Wait til next year?”
Something tells me Cubs fans wouldn’t be such loveable losers if they had to wait every four years to play. Something tells me if the Cubs’ drought was in year 416, there would be a lot of dead billy goats in the streets of Chicago.
These athletes train their entire lives for one shot at glory. And if they miss it? If they stumble, if they mistime a jump, if they over-hit a ball, if they misjudge the wind … they won’t get another chance for four years.
But it’s the forever that makes it meaningful. It’s the forever that makes it special. It’s the forever that makes it memorable.
It’s the forever that makes it Olympic.
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.