For die-hard sports fans like me, the Olympics is the pinnacle of broadcast sporting events: Two weeks of watching the best athletes in the world compete against one another for what represents the ultimate athletic achievement—an Olympic gold medal. I live for the personal tales of struggle and sacrifice, carefully packaged together by NBC to tug at our heartstrings, and unabashedly tear up every time the Star-Spangled Banner plays as a champion takes the podium. And that sentiment is in no way mine alone.
The Olympics represent a (increasingly rare) moment where we can feel united as a nation, screaming our hearts out from the couch about sports we might not even have followed before. (Curling, anyone?) The experience of the Games is one of collective pride—and sometimes shared heartbreak. Even if you've never played a sport in your life, you can imagine how you would feel in that moment, wearing that medal. We feel that the athletes are ours. For the length of the Olympiad, they are part of our family."
But this year's Winter Olympics come with some emotional baggage, even for the most casual sports fan. We're now living in a post–Larry Nassar world—one where we've been exposed to the dark underbelly of one particular athletic system that is now undergoing a massive reckoning. Nassar, a former USA Gymnastics doctor has now been convicted on multiple counts of criminal sexual misconduct, and will spend the rest of his life in jail. As part of his sentencing process, America bore witness to hundreds of survivors who came forward to share their stories. I personally spent hours upon hours watching their testimonies and weeping as research for our Glamour story. I know that I am forever changed. Aren’t we all? And how can America not be forced to reckon with that experience in the context of a new procession of Olympic hopefuls?