Olympics are more than just sports

Every four years during the summer, the world surrounds around its televisions to watch the top athletes compete for two weeks in sports varying from swimming to equestrian.

The Summer Olympics is an event unlike any other. The 2012 London Games has over 10,000 athletes representing 204 countries — 11 more countries than in the United Nations — and all have at least one woman on their team.

It’s a time where we watch sports that otherwise go undetected for four years. When was the last time you watched swimming or gymnastics? But even though the baseline for the Olympics is all about sports, it is so much more than that.

These two weeks are about friendship between other athletes, but even more friendship between other countries. It’s about achieving the ultimate sports dream. It’s about respect for other athletes, coaches and countries. It’s about achieving excellence and returning home a hero, even without a medal.

It’s those three Olympic values — friendship, respect and excellence — that shape every Olympics.

The Olympics represent what we should strive for this world to become: competitive, but respectful.

There will always be rivalry in sports, even rivalry within the same team, and there will always be winners and losers in sports. But that is not what the Olympics are about.

The Olympics are about everything the official website says, “To build a better world through sport.”

So, while watching these Olympic Games, go ahead and cheer for the athletes of your country. But also cheer for the handshakes that conclude every competition.