Perhaps it is the size and spectacle of the Olympic games that so fascinates the world every two years - alternately for the summer and winter games. The games bring together men and women so skilled and athletically gifted that they have no peers in the communities or countries they come from. They face true competition only on a world stage.
For two weeks the world comes together not to debate and discuss how to avoid or wage war, or solve economic problems, or divvy up resources, but to celebrate. Flag-waving citizens of various nations cheer for their own. For tiny countries a single bronze medal can be a source of great national pride, while the super powers measure success in gold.
Gone, thankfully, is the era when the games were seen as a measuring stick of the value of two competing ideologies - capitalism and communism. That era provided some great moments of drama, but the spirit of the Olympics suffered and the athletes were cast in roles few welcomed. They wanted to compete, not prove the superiority of any economic or political system.
With each Olympics the pressure to raise the theatrical bar when it comes to over-the-top opening ceremonies grows. Who can forget Beijing's curtain raiser in 2008 with its 2,008 drummers and a torch lighter who seemingly drifted through the air above Bird's Nest stadium? But the Chinese did not have The Beatles or Sir Paul McCartney - expect a big sing-a-long. There are also reports to expect the acting out of scenes from J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter" books and a sky filled with floating Mary Poppinses.
Gone are the days when viewers could only watch a few selected events in the evenings on a single network. With cable TV and mobile devices there is no end to how much Olympic coverage a person can watch. Will anyone be monitoring office productivity for the next two weeks?
There will be ample Connecticut connections. Bob Willis of Connecticut College is a top-ranking windsurfer. Melissa Gonzalez of the University of Connecticut will compete for the U.S. field hockey team. And of course there is the UConn women's basketball connection, with Geno Auriemma coaching a U.S. squad that includes alums Diana Taurasi, Sue Bird and Swin Cash. There are roughly three dozen athletes at the games with some Connecticut connection, not bad for one of the smaller states.
Yes, the games are too commercial and too often national support borders on jingoism. But they are fun and fascinating and the world will once again be watching.