The Olympic spirit is a phrase liberally tossed around to describe the athletes at the world’s greatest athletic stage every four summers. As defined by the Olympic Creed, the Olympic spirit is:
“The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win, but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph, but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered, but to have fought well.”
Should this be true? Sure. Is it? Probably not.
Athletes are inherently competitive, especially the best athletes from around the world, and it seems silly to be able to tell someone who wins for a living to be alright with not living just because it is a special occasion.
However, the Olympics are about more than sports. The stories are less frequently broadcast in NBC’s primetime coverage, but there are still heartwarming stories to be found throughout the Games. For example, the story of 41-year-old Oksana Chusovitina of Uzbekistan, who once competed for the Soviet Union and in Rio became the world’s oldest Olympic female gymnast, or weightlifter David Katoatau of Kiribati, who danced during the competition to raise awareness for climate change.
These are the stories that give the Olympic spirit meaning. Neither athlete medaled and yet their stories are ones that have the opportunity to be told.
For athletes in less glamorous sports from less glamorous lands with less chance of a glamorous endorsement, the Olympic spirit rings true. For the majority of athletes, the chance to compete in the Olympics comes with the knowledge that the experience is the most valuable asset. For the likes of superstars such as Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps or Simone Biles, the Olympics are more valuable as a launching point into the next wave of a career.
It is smart for these athletes to take advantage of the monetary and career opportunities that are tied to the Olympics for some of the more popular sports, but for the hundreds of other athletes who do not receive the same attention from the mainstream media, the best they can hope for is to embrace and honor the Olympic spirit.
The Olympic spirit is applicable in everyday life, and there are endless inspirational quotes conveying the same message. We see them everyday on friends’ Instagram bios and classmates’ notebooks, but most ordinary lives are so far removed from the Olympics it would be seemingly difficult to find inspiration in a creed meant for the world’s most impressive athletes.
And yet, here we all are, at the University of Southern California. No, it isn’t Oxford or Harvard, but without a doubt it is an extremely prestigious university who has graduated people who have changed the way the world operates and thinks.
All the students at USC were once the Olympians of their high school and now that they’ve won a medal, moved on to the next part of their education.
As a competitive student at USC, it is easy to get caught up in the “winners are the only ones who succeed” mentality, but upon closer inspection, the time spent at USC is more similar to a three-week stay at the Olympics than one might think.
As the Olympic creed says, the most important thing is to take part, so do not be afraid to experience USC in every avenue. Do not worry solely about winning, but also learn from the battle that college is every day in a variety of ways. As the creed finishes by saying that to fight well is the most essential aspect, it’s hard not to appreciate that as a Trojan, where we live by the motto, “Fight On!”
Hailey Tucker is a junior majoring in broadcast and digital journalism. She is also the sports editor of the Daily Trojan. Her column, “Tucker Talks,” runs Wednesdays.