Of course, even as the games themselves have grown, so have the skills and talents of the various athletes on display. It seems as if each successive competition sees the various records continue to fall. There is little doubt that these games will be any different.
Another thing that has grown is the coverage. What began decades ago as a largely tape-delayed, one network broadcast monopoly has now become a live, multi-network (and indeed continuously fed online) coverage of the games. Besides, in a day and age of ubiquitous smartphones, there is virtually no way to report a story after the fact. The world is much too tech savvy for that.
Nonetheless, the live coverage and instantaneous worldwide reporting of results does not capture what one network famously called “the human drama of athletic competition”. And a good part of why people tune in each evening is to catch this very human component.
As these athlete profiles have begun to unfold this week, I find myself reminded that, at the end of the day, these athletes, while exceptionally skilled in their respective sports, are still only human beings.
For this reason, each of them has a heritage, a life, and of course, a backstory. More often than not, each of these stories is filled with some degree of pathos and struggle. Even at their tender young ages (so many are in their twenties at most and their teens at least), long and hard was the path that got them to where they now are. And for many of them, a significant part of that path has been their journey of faith.
Thus, for my post today, I wanted to recommend a book to my readers. It was written by Dr. Gerald Harris twenty years ago back in 1996 and designed to correspond with the coming of the Olympic games to Atlanta, Georgia in that same year. It is titled Olympic Heroes: World-class Athletes Winning At Life (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1996).
Though now out of print, copies can be easily be secured through any number of online book re-sellers such as Amazon or else eBay or similar online auction sites.
The book is paperback and relatively short at only 127 pages; but it is quite informative and even more enjoyable. As the title suggests, he relates the story of several Olympic athletes and their life struggles.
But more than just their struggles, he tells of their victories as they, like the famed saints of the New Testament Book of Hebrews (chapters 11 and 12), ran with perseverance the race marked out for them, having fixed their eyes upon Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of their faith. I hardily recommend this book.
SOURCE: Dr. Gerald Harris has an official website that can be found at: http://www.jgeraldharris.org/. He has served as editor of The Christian Index (the official newsletter of the Georgia Baptist Convention) since June 2003, and is responsible for the overall editorial tone of the paper. In that role he espouses the Biblical worldview through his editorials and many news and feature articles.
Prior to joining the Index, he served for nine years as a pastor and denominational leader. Over the years, he has written for a variety of denominational publications, including devotions for Open Windows and HomeLife magazines. He has also authored two additional books: Pardoned to be Priests and A Gentle Zephyr – A Mighty Wind.