The Summer Olympics come every 4 years to great fanfare and excitement. For two weeks millions and millions of people around the world consume these Games. They revel in the marvel of these athletes and their stories. Then the Games end. And for the American public nothing really changes.
An increasing number of Americans don’t care about the Olympics. The spectacle of the Summer Olympics come and go every 4 years, becoming appointment viewing for many but not becoming ingrained in the American psyche. The majority of Olympic sports are not a part of the American sports landscape. Things like archery, handball, taekwondo and water polo are sports with which Americans may be familiar but they do not drive many to become spectators. They are not regularly on television. The Olympics are the time for athletes of these sports to shine, and then they disappear into the ether.
Some will get parades. Many will go back to training. And go back to their day jobs. Perhaps some of the athletes will even take a vacation. But for all Olympic athletes their lives will never be the same.
For many Olympic athletes the Games are the pinnacle of their sport. And not everyone can win. Many athletes have to live for 4 years with the sting of defeat. Some wondering if they’ll even get an opportunity to try again. If not, either by choice or not, what then?
Most Olympic athletes are just people. Highly successful people who do feats the vast majority of the world could never even approach, but just people. They don’t make millions of dollars. They don’t get mass press coverage. They live their lives focused around the Olympics. When those have come and gone they have to figure out what to do with those lives, just like the rest of us.