I suppose I owe an apology to the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, the private company responsible for funding and planning the 2012 Summer Olympics.
More than $3.5 billion was spent building new, architecturally daring venues and razing most of East London to prepare the city for its first Olympic games since a somewhat grim post-war affair in 1948, which probably would have benefited from more practical events, such as Bombed-Out City Rebuilding.
Yet despite this substantial investment of time, labor and capital, I was, at best, lukewarm about these games.
I saw the Olympics as a stopgap, not unlike the Major League Baseball All-Star Game or that European soccer thing that hipsters seemed to be really excited about.
They were something I would watch with tepid interest and whose conclusion would leave me a few short weeks away from the all-too-sweet return of football season.
The Olympics, I thought, were the means to an end.
I’m not sure how I could have been so naive.
Like most of you, I’ve watched events from the popular, swimming and gymnastics, to the obscure, slalom canoeing and handball, from the edge of my couch, and often, through eyes moistened with tears.
I should have seen this coming.
If nothing else, the Olympics appeal to my often unflappable sense of romanticism.
There’s nothing better than watching someone realize a lifelong dream or realize they aren’t done dreaming.
These are athletes who live their lives in four-year chunks and do so, not in the pursuit of multimillion dollar endorsement deals or personal glory, but for the honor of representing their country and earning that most ancient of titles — Olympian.
For every Michael Phelps, LeBron James or Serena Williams, there are thousands of athletes competing in London, many of them American, who will return home to little fanfare but will be forever changed.
Corporate sponsors might not deem them worthy of being pitchmen, but they are certainly worthy of our respect because, if nothing else, they have dared to dream, a feat requiring infinitely more courage and personal sacrifice than many of us can fathom.
Each athlete is an embodiment of the kind of determination and will that has typified our species since we came out of the cave and went over the hill.
It’s tough to watch these games, in all of their beautiful, high-definition splendor and not think, “Wow. Look at what we can do.”
In honor of these Olympics, this week’s playlist features songs from eight international bands.
In due time, I will miss being able to turn on the television and marvel at some sport I never knew existed three months ago. I’m looking at you, dressage.
• Thee Attacks, “So Cold” — (Denmark): What happens when Danish rockers get their hands on some Black Keys records.
• Izabo, “Slow Disco” — (Israel): That crunchy guitar sound at the beginning of this track make it kind of irrisistible.
• The Yellow Dogs, “This City” — (Iran): A song that channels everything from The Strokes to Arctic Monkeys. Really catchy and fun.
• Gotye, “Eyes Wide Open” — (Australia): The Gotye song everyone should be listening to.
• Shout Out Louds, “Oh, Sweetheart” — (Sweden): A perfectly catchy, upbeat song from a perfectly upbeat, catchy Swedish band.
• Civil Twilight, “Fire Escape” — (South Africa): I wish you luck getting this song out of your head.
• The Maccabees, “Went Away” — (England): The competition to represent Team Great Britain was tight, but this song is as good as any I’ve heard lately. Vulnerable, soaring and beautiful.
• Phoenix, “Armistice” — (France): Phoenix’s “Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix” is an utter masterpiece and this, the album’s last song, is particularly great.