We are enjoying the Olympics. We like them (even though some parts are boring, and we wish they'd show more whitewater sports on primetime). My brother-in-law, on the other hand, has absolutely no interest. He also thinks NASA is pretty useless, and I think there is a connection.
NASA is about having a vision. It's about going where we haven't gone before or going somewhere again with better technology. It's about exploring the unexplored with the idea that we can learn more about our world and universe. But it's not purism; it's not just about space. Because of NASA, we have learned things, practical things, that have improved our life on Earth. Granted, I'd have to ask my husband what those things are--he's the aero engineer and NASA junkie--but I know they're out there.
The Olympics are similar. The sense of purism is there. You know, doing something just to do it. To push the boundaries. To see what can be done. Going where we haven't gone before. Breaking world records. But there is also the possibility of learning more about the human body, more about what all of us can do or hope for. There are the serendipitous, practical returns. But I guess the true legacy remains with the awe and inspiration. When I see the 38-year old mom win the marathon, I don't want to run a marathon. But it does make me think I might be able to get in a little better shape--that all is not lost in the fitness department.
On another note: I did not know that there was an Olympic trampoline event. When we heard that, we scoffed. But then we saw it. Man, props to the trampoline jumpers and some sick amplitude.