Every two years, once the Olympic torch is lit and the confetti from the opening ceremonies has been swept up, we begin to learn a little something about the human spirit.
And about human nature.
We’re blown away by what athletes can and do accomplish, often in the face of overwhelming odds.
National heroes are born every day for two weeks — even if the lifespan of that public ardour is painfully short.
Eventually, however, that impressive drive to give as much as it takes to win, clashes with a ‘win at any cost’ mentality.
We’ve already seen it in London, as four teams of badminton players did their best to throw their respective matches in an effort to draw easier partners in the next round.
Never mind that they were on a world stage, where excellence and effort are the whole point of the exercise.
Never mind the thousands of people in the stands who had paid good money for their own Olympic experience — to watch elite athletes battle it out for a chance at athletic glory.
No, once they’d been (rightfully) given the boot, the excuses started. One player even announced she would be quitting the sport in protest.
Some commenters have defended it as an acceptable strategy.
What it was, in fact, was a disgraceful display of disrespect for their sport, the fans and the Olympics themselves.
Happily, though, it was but a small blight on what has otherwise so far been a fantastic show.
We’ve watched in awe as cyclist Clara Hughes — a multi-medal winner in both the Summer and Winter Games — rode to fifth spot in the time trials, only to learn afterward she’d broken her back in a fall two months earlier.
Diver Alexandre Despatie returned to the board to earn a bronze in men’s synchronized diving — performing the same dive he’d been doing earlier this summer when he smashed his head on the diving board.
Now that takes guts.
Even the equestrians, like Langley’s own Hawley Bennett-Awad, risk life and limb on some of the most hair-raising courses out there to bring home a bit of hardware.
Those are just the Canadian examples — and only the ones we’ve witnessed so far.
With some of the nation’s best medal hopes yet to compete, it can only get better.
Forget the Real Housewives of wherever. Never mind the pickers and the hoarders.
This is reality television at its best.