Our Olympic teams have been winning medal upon medal in the Beijing Games. They have been crushing world records and establishing new ones. Legends have been created. Watching our athletes compete has brought strong feelings of pride and nationalism into our living rooms each night.
During Michael Phelps’ methodical pursuit of Mark Spitz’ record of seven gold medals in one Olympiad, we watched as his teammates rose to the challenge and selflessly helped him to win eight gold medals in China.
Our men’s basketball team is climbing back to the top of the basketball world led by Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Jason Kidd.
Despite all the “Thrills of Victory,” so far there have been some defeats. Our boxing team has failed to reclaim America’s eminence in the sport. Our women’s track team was swept by Jamaica. No American men qualified for the finals at the high jump bar. The men’s track team continued not qualifying for the finals. Now that is the “Agony of Defeat,” when you cannot even make it to the race.
We are very proud of Keeth Smart and his sister Erinn Smart who both won silver medals in Fencing. Moreover, with the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament coming to Queens soon we will look forward to cheering for Venus and Serena Williams who doubled up to win gold on the Chinese courts.
No matter the outcome of the rest of the competition, we - the United States citizens - are the biggest winners of all. No amount of money, corporate sponsorships, government subsidies that foreign teams receive can match the hard work and personal sacrifice that our athletes make for their sports, their teams and their country.
Unlike the Chinese, we do not take our young gymnasts away from their families to national training centers and only allow them to see their loved ones a week or so each year. We do not supply our athletes with stipends and living expenses. Our champions and their families sacrifice for the opportunity to make our teams and represent America against the rest of the world every two years in the Summer, and alternately, the Winter Games.
Will our medalists make endorsement money when the get home? Yes they will. There will be sporting goods to endorse and corn flakes boxes to appear on as well as an ocean of energy drinks to tout.
Those in the know - the sports business consultants - predict that Phelps’ eight gold medals will be worth $40 million to him. His image will be used by Madison Avenue to sell products from food - he consumes 14,000 calories a day when training - to cars, colognes and clothes. That is how we reward our heroes. The bigger the hero, the greater the rewards.

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