For the last week, I, along with millions of others, have been spending each evening anxiously watching the coverage of the Beijing games. I don't care what the sport is, I'm reduced to jumping up and down in front of my television, yelling encouragement, bemoaning mistakes and occasionally offering advice that none of the athletes, strangely enough, seems to be able to hear, regardless of how loudly I yell. This has probably led to some questions about my stability from unfortunate neighbors who happen to be wandering within a mile or two of my home.
But the phenomenon I'm most curious about is whether the collective psychic energy of an entire country can actually make someone go faster.
The idea popped into my mind while watching some of the amazing swimming races throughout the last week of competition. I, like so many others, got completely wrapped up in Michael Phelps' amazing accomplishment, becoming the most decorated Olympian in history. I admit, I wanted to see him win each of those gold medals and was thrilled with the image his humble nature and great sportsmanship showed to the rest of the world.
But boy, oh boy, am I glad his events are over. I don't think my nerves could take any more one-hundredth-of-a-second wins or come-from-behind victories. Every race, I kept thinking that I wanted to give each of the American racers just a little push, telegraphing my energy across an ocean to give them just a little more speed.
I know I'm not the only one who feels this urge to give a bit of a psychic shove. So, what if millions of people, watching at the same time, with a common goal, all focused their energy on one athlete. Would that athlete suddenly feel a little extra get-up-and-go? A metaphysical kick in the rear?
Just think of the larger implications if it were true. Solving international conflicts, curing disease, getting Hollywood to stop turning bad old TV shows into bad new TV shows/movies. There would be no limits to our power.
Alas, if there's one thing I've learned from watching my mother yelling advice to various football teams, only to see her completely ignored, it is that this psychic sports phenomenon is fairly unreliable.
That's why I'm focusing my power on the Olympics, and particularly on those athletes who show grace and class. Try any of that showboating, any celebrating before crossing the finish line, any rude remarks, any chips on the shoulder and you aren't getting any of my telepathic help.
I know that others take their favorite sports seriously; just look at British soccer fans or any American football fan who paints his body in team colors and names his children after his favorite players.
But there's something different about the Olympics, when we celebrate not only national heroes, but human accomplishments, and reward those who rise above pettiness and adversity. That's why watching the Olympics is an actual sport.
Besides, I'm getting more of a cardio workout jumping in front of the television than I ever could at a gym.