Have you been following the Olympics? They are hard to miss because NBC is offering 2,900 hours of live TV coverage. Those live hours, spread across NBC and its cable TV outlets, top the total U.S. TV hours — 2,562 — for all previous Summer Games combined.
I think my fascination with the Olympics began in 1972 when as a high school student I watched the United States freestyle wrestling team win three gold, two silver and one bronze medal. Being a wrestler myself, these athletes became my heroes, and as I watched their exploits in the television each evening, I found myself inspired to work harder, train longer and dream bigger.
This year's crop of athletes in all of the sports are maybe even more impressive, inspirational and heroic. Swimmer Michael Phelps has already won five gold medals and is looking for three more. The US team has already won 29 medals to China's 27, and it's only day five of the competition.
But what about the hero factor that I mentioned earlier. Are these athletes really our heroes? Do we find some kind of inspiration in their feats? Are you inspired to greatness like I was as a 15 year old?
As I ask myself these questions, I think about some other heroes that I know, heroes who will never compete in the Olympic games. I think about a couple who have dedicated their lives to orphaned children in Guatemala. I remember a man in India who was beaten to the point of death because he renounced Hinduism for Christianity. I consider the sacrifice of relatives of a friend of mine who sold and gave away everything and are now ministering in remote Tanzania, where the closest "civilization" is 12 hours away.
They may not be on TV, but to me these are the real heroes.