A Weekly Column
By Joseph Walker


This is NOT the official newspaper column of the 2002 Winter Olympics.

Never mind that I live just a curling stone's throw away from several Olympic venues. Forget that in an earlier professional life I covered the 1984 Olympics at Los Angeles and the 1988 Winter Games at Calgary. And don't even consider the fact that I know someone who knows someone who knows someone who knows someone who actually helped deliver bribes . . . er, booty . . . er, gifts to visiting Olympic bid decision-makers.

None of that matters. Not proximity. Not experience. Not connections.

None of it.

The only thing that matters in this regard is money, and I don't have the financial wherewithal to be the official Olympic ANYTHING. In fact, I'm probably walking on thin ice here just by using the O-word. There are probably limitations and restrictions regarding its use of which I'm unaware - but ignorance of the law being no excuse, next week's column will probably be coming to you from some Swiss slammer.

Assuming, of course, that there are slammers in Switzerland.

All of which is why I want to make it very clear right up front that this is NOT the official newspaper column of the 2002 Winter Olympics.

Besides, I'm not sure what I could possibly say about the athletes who will be competing during the upcoming Olympics that I can't already say about men and women occupied in non-Olympic endeavors all around the world.

Take Joni, for example. Joni is one of the hardest-working, most dedicated colleagues with whom I have ever had the privilege of working. Bright, good-natured and intensely loyal, she is the ultimate team player, always willing to give that extra effort for the good of the project or the company. She also does an amazing job of maintaining balance in her life as a single mother, finding quality time for friends, family members and her No. 1 priority: her teenage daughter.

Then there's Brian, a neighbor and friend who is going through some of that "agony of defeat" stuff lately. Despite a long and successful career with his employer, he was laid off as part of the company's strategy for making it through the current economic "situation" (you know, the recession that isn't really a recession). Brian has faced this adversarial turn of events in his life with characteristic wit and good cheer, and he has worked hard for months to find another job. It's been discouraging at times, but he keeps on trying, and you just know that with his talent and great attitude, he's eventually make it back to the medals podium.

And what about the young man I watched during the little league basketball game last weekend? There was a close play, with lots of flailing little league arms and legs, and the ball skipped out of bounds.

The referee, who was out of position, made the best call he could, and awarded the ball to the young man's team. But the boy looked the ref in the eye and shook his head, acknowledging that he had been the last one to touch the ball, and it should instead be awarded to the other team.

See what I mean? It's all around us. Olympian performance and accomplishment. Olympian courage in the face of adversity. Olympian sportsmanship and integrity. Olympian kindness and compassion and service. That's the spirit of the Olympics, and it's everywhere.

Whether or not you read about it in an official Olympic newspaper column.

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--- © Joseph Walker


Look for Joe's book, "How Can You Mend a Broken Spleen? Home Remedies for an Ailing World." It is available on-line through