When you come up in a place where the only ice you see is an occasional frozen mud puddle and the closest ski run is a thousand miles away, the Winter Olympics might as well have been held on Mars. And, in the days before TV, the Olympics was relegated to a newsreel blip in a movie house or a few lines in a newspaper.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that for someone who has never participated in or had never even been around winter sports and has absolutely no entre whatsoever into that world, it's pretty amazing how big a fan of the Winter Olympics I have become.
I can sit for hours and watch ice dancing, luge and speed skating and thoroughly enjoy every second of it.
Of course I have my favorites. I love the downhill ski racing, the snowboarding and, of course, the hockey - but, I even get a kick out of the subtler events like curling. One of my favorites is the biathlon, and I marvel at just how steady the athlete's hands and eyes can be when taking a delicate rifle shot at a quarter-sized target after skiing hard for a couple of miles.
Every athlete who takes the field in the Olympics has a story, a story of an incredibly grinding regimen of hard work, pain, and the kind of dedication only a handful of human beings possess.
You don't get to be an Olympic athlete by partying hard, sleeping late, stuffing off practice and petulant attitudes about how unfair the world is.
These kids have devoted their lives and every last ounce of energy they possess to conditioning, training and developing the ability to make split-second decisions. They live in a world where winners are judged in thousandths of a second, where there is no do-over or second chance and have been training all their lives for something that, in many cases, lasts less than two minutes.
Achieving the absolute peak of physical condition is not enough; the mental processes have to be honed to the Nth degree of performance, perception, opportunity and nanosecond decision-making.
When you see an Olympic athlete in the blocks ready to pit their untold hours of soul-wrenching preparation against a field of other athletes who have gone through the same thing, you can't help but wonder what goes through their minds.
Are they thinking about the dreams and hopes of a nation resting on their shoulders? Are they remembering past mistakes and vowing not to repeat them or are they able to mentally divorce their minds from everything except the task before them and focus on unleashing years of discipline and training, reaching down inside for that little something special and competing at the absolute limits of their ability?
Obviously, everybody who comes to the Olympics will not go home with a medal. The Olympic arena is where the one-size-fits-all, don't-hurt-anybody's-feelings, grade-on-a-curve fantasy ends and the real world of competition and determination begins.
These young people have no illusions about being given anything, there is no partiality, no mercy. If you fall, you're out; if you give up, nobody cares and everybody has the same chance at winning.
In a way, the Olympics is a microcosm of the reality society should model itself after: a world where those who are willing to work the hardest, develop their God given skills and take responsibility for their own future are given the biggest rewards simply because they've earned them.
We could learn a lot from the Olympics.
Congratulations to all the young people around the world who have fought the good fight, gone the extra mile and made it to Sochi.
You're a special breed and winners all.
What do you think?
Pray for our troops and the peace of Jerusalem
God Bless America