Once every four years, you'll typically find me glued to a television set, cheering on the United States in its quest for Olympic gold in the summer games.
I'm not a huge sports fan outside of the Olympics. I really love to watch professional football, and I would watch bowling tournaments if they were aired more often, but other than that, sports just aren't my thing - until the Olympics come around.
And while I enjoy watching the winter games - I can't believe how fast those people can ski - there's just something about the summer games that keep me coming back.
This year has been a little rough for me. I don't have cable television in my apartment, so I'm mostly reading news articles about the games. Though it hardly comes close to watching a gymnast fly through the air on the parallel bars, or a synchronized dive team hit the water with the tiniest of splashes, it's still helping me get my much-needed Olympic fix.
I love all the pomp and circumstance surrounding the opening ceremonies (although London may have gone a shade to the side of normal when they busted out that giant, creepy baby).
I love watching the medal ceremonies, as athletes who do things beyond what so many of us could only dream of, stand proudly on their podiums, their hearts over their hands as their flags are raised.
I love seeing the runners push threw the finish line, their heads thrust forward and their arms windmilling. I love even more to see them keep running around the track, streaming their flag behind them, elated with their gold medal finish.
In this day and age, and especially in this country, when we seem to constantly be hitting bigger and bigger extremes, it's nice to watch the entire world converge on one stage and treat each other as fellow human beings.
Not to say that this year hasn't seen its share of bad behavior, with four teams from three countries booted out of the games for throwing badminton matches to boost their chances at winning gold, and two athletes from Greece and Switzerland who were banned from the games because of racist comments posted on Twitter.
But all that aside, the Olympics, for me, boil down to just one, simple idea: showing up and giving it everything you've got. And that philosophy is why we all tune in every time the games come around. It's what makes the games special. It's what makes them the Olympics.
We cheer for people we've never met and we watch with bated breath as they pour everything they've got after years of preparation into the few short minutes that count.
Lately, I've found myself whistling the Olympic theme song at odd times, like, when I'm folding laundry or walking up the stairs to my apartment. These are my big physical achievements for the day.
And I'll keep whistling the song, I'm sure, until the games wind down to a close, though they'll thankfully only be gone for a few years.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Jackie Stark is a Marquette resident and a staff reporter at The Mining Journal. Her column appears bi-weekly. She can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.