The Twelfth Victim

August 1, 2012 Olympics

Last Friday I was invited to Shabbos dinner at my neighbor’s house. Boris gave a prayer for the twelve victims of the Munich Olympic murders. He framed the issue better than I did; the Olympic spirit was the twelfth victim of the terrorists.

His prayer was right on the money. The murders struck a crippling blow to the 1972 games and the Olympic spirit has been decaying for the last forty years.

These two weeks will be great theater full of drama and excitement. The indomitable spirit of the individual athletes can’t be diminished. A near blind archer breaking a world record, Oscar Pistorius will run 400 meters with prosthetic legs and those who have no chance at a medal will play their hearts out. If only the IOC had the same heart as the athletes.

The deaths cry out for acknowledgment. We humans have ceremonies because of their ritual significance. We mark the important occasions of our lives, birth, death, marriage, with ceremony. Unnatural death may be the most significant of them all.

You can sense the diminished spirit of the games themselves. Hypocrisy can do that.