Our American exceptionalism allows us to shimmer, too fully in our greatness. We are the biggest and the baddest. We are the best armed and the most influential. We win the most Olympic medals, and we have the most nuclear weapons. We are so great that we wave our flags and shout out, “U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!”
In some ways, it is an imperialist chant, a chant of dominance, a chant that ignores the fact that we chant because we have the luxury, as a nation, of an uneven playing field, especially in terms of resources. I’m not jumping up and down and flag waving.
It took the Simones (Biles and Manuel) to win gold medals for me to celebrate the Olympics. It took just a flip of the switch, a flick of the kaleidoscope, for me to see it differently.
While there is a great difference between the athlete who comes from a highly-subsidized Russian or Chinese environment and one who comes from an urban area combining grit and corporate sponsorship, as in the United States, or those who either make it on their own or cobble together possibilities, all of these athletes are chasing greatness and perfection.