Jan Risher -

Joe Klamar's much-ballyhooed Olympic portraits aside, I can't wait for the Olympics to start. Specifically, I can't wait for the opening ceremonies. Even though the Olympics have made what I consider to be huge and bordering on mean mistakes about their broad interpretation of trademark and copyright concerns (after all, they didn't invent the Olympics or create places like the Olympic Peninsula), I still love me some Olympic Opening Ceremonies.

I love seeing those small contingencies of athletes from many countries I've never visited and knowing for that bright and shining moment, there is so much hope gathered in and focused on that one place.

I love seeing the athletes in their colorful and country-inspired outfits. I love seeing the flags and watching the athletes take pictures of the flags and other athletes, sizing up their competition and taking in the moment. I love seeing the colors, the differences in people, the sheer number of smiles. I love anticipating and enjoying the host country do itself proud and proclaim to the world exactly who they are and what they do well.

It makes me sad that some athletes don’t attend the opening ceremonies, which I believe should be required in order to compete. It makes me sad that doping scandal after doping scandal mars the spirit of competition. But in the Olympics, as in so much of the way I choose to see the world, the good and golden moments far outweigh any ugliness that creeps in.

Aside from the Opening Ceremonies, my absolute favorite part of the games is when some hard-scrabble athlete from a country few Americans could find on a map wins a gold medal. As he or she take stands atop the medal podium and their flag is raised as a tune most of us have never heard is played, I smile. Go underdogs!