You owe any one Olympian one beer

You owe an Olympian a beer. It can be any Olympian. It can be any kind of beer. I'd recommend asking the Olympian what he or she wants to drink before you actually purchase it. Maybe the bartender will already know. This beer should not be intended as an opportunity to ingratiate yourself or get an autograph. Just buy the guy or gal a beer, and say a quick "Thank you" then be on your way.

I'm sitting here with my beer gut watching the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece. I'm sort of enjoying it and alternately am finding myself disappointed. Admittedly, being an American, I'm very ethnocentric towards what I consider to be my home team playing abroad. The turnout isn't what was expected. The American basketball 'Dream Team' seems more like a wet dream. Although the swimming competition has been interesting academically, and Amanda Beard is without a doubt drop dead gorgeous, I've never personally been able to get excited over people swimming back and forth in a pool. The Japanese are dutifully and deservedly kicking our ass in men's gymnastics and the Romanian women may do the same in women's gymnastics. Although women's beach volleyball is entertaining to watch (May and Walsh are major babe material), I question how that ever became an Olympic sport. Don't even get me started on synchronized swimming, because I didn't start this rant just for Olympic Games bashing. That's not my aim here.

Now I sit here, with my beer gut, and I have the gall to think these thoughts; type these words. How dare I look at this Olympics thing as if it were supposed to entertain me personally. That's not what this Olympics thing is about at all. I could barely do a chin up, much less actually take hold of a high bar and flip myself over it without ending up dead. Yet these people spend years - in many cases over half or more of their day to day lives - endeavoring to achieve a level of physical perfection. Only three in each event can go home with a medal, but anyone who even makes it to contention deserve to be called Olympians.

Any non Olympian who has ever watched a summer or winter Olympic games and felt a smile cross their lips, anyone who has ever entertained the thought of maybe getting off their ass and training to better themselves and while perhaps not competing in the Olympics at least getting healthy enough to survive a walkathon, owes an Olympian a beer. Anyone who ever dreamed a dream and failed to achieve it, or dreamed a dream and found a way to realize it, you have a merest sinking suspicion what it must be like to stand there and hear your national anthem played, with a ribbon draped around your neck and a medallion hanging from it, perhaps with a crown of laurels or a bouquet of flowers, millions of people watching you... Well there's people on this planet who don't just think about what it's like. They went out and did it, at great expense and painful exertion. They made the dream a reality, which somehow lends more tangibility to the fantasy of millions of others. You and I will probably never get off our ass and remain couch potatoes, or perhaps you are off your ass and actually have a six pack where I have a small keg. That doesn't matter. What does matter is if by some whim of the gods you find yourself in the presence of a person who actually competed in the Olympics, doesn't matter which one, you should feel duty-bound as a member of humanity to buy the person a beer.

If they don't drink, no biggie, but at least offer. After all, they've done their small part to continue a tradition that dates back near the dawn of the human race. For the most part Olympian athletes show what it's like to have grace under pressure and epitomize both the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. They represent the best human beings can be. They support with their effort a global communal spirit that may one day contribute in a small way to the end of war and help pave the way of peace. At the very least, they have cool stories to tell which might make the night of everybody at the bar.

Pamela Anderson gave Mohini Bhardwaj twenty thousand dollars to help her achieve her dream. Would it really kill ya? The least you can do is buy Mary Lou Retton a beer. Or any Olympian past or present, provided you ever meet one. And let's face it: what are the odds?

Still asking why? What possible reason why these people deserve your offer of alcohol to whet their whistle? Or hey a sports drink if they really turn down the hard stuff. Why do this? Why should it matter to you? Just practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty for no reason whatsoever and lighten up a bit. Do you really need a reason? For that matter, next time you run into a fireman, astronaut, policeman or whoever invented the cellphone, buy them a beer too. What the hell. Still asking why? Why the hell not?