Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Kyle Goon: Bridging our national divides with the Olympics

By Kyle Goon

| The Salt Lake Tribune

First Published Feb 08 2014 08:34 pm • Last Updated Mar 14 2014 11:38 pm

Every two years, we love celebrating a chance for nations to put differences aside to come together for one thing every culture has in common: sports.

We celebrate the Olympics as a tool of international diplomacy. People with an astonishing array of languages, religious values and societal structures interact in a competitive but ultimately peaceful way. It’s comforting to know despite the shaky nature of world politics and crises, we can agree on one thing: Every four years, we should have an opportunity for everybody to play hockey.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

But I wonder — is there an opportunity that we as Americans are missing here?

I’m not talking about extending a hand to the world. I’m talking about extending a hand to each other.

Think about it: Our country is embroiled in one of the most divisive political eras of our history. We have deep societal divides on issues including same-sex marriage, minimum wage, the rights and limits of corporate power, healthcare, the environment and many others. The powers that be would have a hard time choosing between pizza and burgers for a congressional dinner, much less bridge more meaningful political divides.

Everywhere you look, it seems we have factions. Even close families are a little more on edge about political discussions around the dinner table. Neighbor against neighbor. Parents against children. Friend against friend.

It’s a tense time in America.

Where can you find unity? In the crowds around televisions in sports bars and living rooms across our nation. Because it’s the Olympics.

The Olympics makes the most hardened skeptics and cynics tear up at the sound of the national anthem or the sight of the old Stars and Stripes fluttering in the breeze. People diverse in ethnic background, gender, socioeconomic status and political affiliation find their common ground in chanting: "USA! USA!"

We’re Americans. We root for our athletes. We’ll drop our petty or even serious differences for a chance to cheer on Steve Holcomb’s Night Train bobsled hurtling down the track, or pump our fists as the Flying Tomato lands another nearly out-of-control flip. Side-by-side, we’ll hoot and holler for J.R. Celski as he rounds his last lap in a tight race.

story continues below
story continues below

I’m not naïve enough to suggest that sports is the tool that can solve all our problems. But we need common ground. We need to find the things that draw us together instead of starting conversations with the issues that tear us apart.

This Olympic season, put off reaching across the ocean. Reach across the coffee table. Share an Olympic moment with someone you might feel has ideologies on the far spectrum of your own. You never know what moment might spark something between two people who feel they have nothing to talk about.

At the very least, you can talk about how weird curling is.


Twitter: @kylegoon

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.