Olympic Memories

Sadly, the necessities of adulting have kept me from watching The Olympics this summer.

My fascination started in the summer of 1972 –  all the flags, the flame, the whole concept of all of those countries coming together to compete.  Then in 1976, like the rest of the world, Nadia kept me glued to the TV.

My favorite movie, Chariots of Fire, is all about the 1924 Olympics.  Long before I could have ever imagined a career in HR, a story unfolded with great insights into how very different people could have the same goal: Olympic gold.

In reading a few of the articles about Simone Biles this past week, I was taken back to a scene in that movie; an aside moment after a very tense confrontation:

Duke of Sutherland: A sticky moment, George. 

Lord Birkenhead: Thank God for Lindsay. I thought the lad had us beaten. 

Duke of Sutherland: He did have us beaten, and thank God he did. 

Lord Birkenhead: I don’t quite follow you. 

Duke of Sutherland: The “lad”, as you call him, is a true man of principles and a true athlete. His speed is a mere extension of his life, its force. We sought to sever his running from himself. 

Lord Birkenhead: For his country’s sake, yes. 

Duke of Sutherland: No sake is worth that, least of all a guilty national pride.

While the rationale of Simone’s decision differed from Eric Liddell’s, the principle remains about understanding the source of someone’s talent, it is “a mere extension of his life, its force … We sought to sever [that] from himself.”

Returning to the 1924 Summer Olympics, it was hardly a time when people spoke of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Now imagine one of your most fantastic athletes says he will not “work” (compete) in his best event, his best chance at winning for your company (country) because it interferes with his core beliefs.  Do you accommodate and find a different task (event)? Or do you insist on treating everyone the same and risk severing people from what makes them unique? or tick? or from your team?

Our country has been catching up with a lot of the world during the Covid Pandemic.  Catching up in that many people have finally had time to reflect on the meaning of life, their life.  More on that next week. 

Kate Evert

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