Friday, July 19, 2013

Oh what a sight!

Going into these Games, we are told often that things will run pretty smoothly but there are some things that will just not happen as planned, especially in the first 24 hours. Case in point: we had arranged an unofficial practice at the tournament site, Bola Bowling in Holon. First it was at noon, then moved to 11 a.m. to give more prep time before the Opening Ceremonies. That necessitated a change in the bus schedule. So far, so good. Until the bus didn’t show up. We waited, and waited, and waited some more, finally deciding to ditch the idea entirely. A few of my teammates took a cab to the center (I wasn’t planning on bowling anyway and didn’t feel the need to see the facility at that point) … and apparently the bus showed up at 11:40 a.m.! Say it with me people …. Hurry Up and Wait!

So this really got some people all bent out of shape but, these things happen. In “retaliation,” some of the people from our hotel took their time getting onto the bus for various reasons. Scheduled to leave for Jerusalem, we pulled away from the hotel around 4:40 p.m. and got to Jerusalem after 6 p.m., which was helpful since it minimized the time we stood around the holding area before the Opening Ceremonies (which began nearly an hour late, but who is counting).

Like usual, the Opening Ceremonies didn’t disappoint. It’s mesmerizing to walk into the stadium – the newly-renovated Kollek Stadium in Jerusalem – and be part of that cacophony of life and celebration. As we marched around the field, waving and cheering with the people in the stands, you forget that there are challenges that face us every day – individually and collectively. You focus on the joy, on the excitement, on the intensity that is filling the stadium and you cannot help but get wrapped up in it. We get to walk in at the beginning of the procession (it goes in alphabetical order, according to the Hebrew alphabet) and then can cheer and watch as other countries walk in – some with only one or two delegates! In fact, this year, a special effort was made to reach out and build connections with “lost communities” in order to connect them to Israel and the Jewish people, lest we risk losing them forever. Check out this article from JTA.

Here are a few pictures from the inside:

What was a great evening soured a little at the end when the transportation back to the various accommodations was nothing short of a hot mess. We didn’t get back until nearly 2:30 a.m. and we heard reports that some didn’t make it home until after 5 a.m. While this was still an incredible night, these are the details that help accentuate the positives even more. When things run smoothly, all you can do is focus on the great things happening around you. When there are some bumps in the road that could have been smoothed out in some way, the comments will always be, “we had a great time but …” It’s time to get rid of the buts (and no, this is not an anti-smoking advertisement). Whatever we can do, we must do so that our athletes have the best time possible in their homeland. There is no but about that!

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