NewslettersSign inAPP
spainSPAINargentinaARGENTINAchileCHILEcolombiaCOLOMBIAusaUSAmexicoMEXICOperuPERUlatin usaLATIN USAamericaAMERICA

La Liga begins, but the Olympics wave bye bye


As La Liga begins again this weekend, the Olympic Games say goodbye. And what differences there are between the two things! The Olympics take place for just two weeks every four years, while Spanish football goes on every year (and with all its different forms and guises, like its extensions to Europe and the Super Cups, it goes on practically all year). Olympic athletes, almost without exception, live relatively anonymously between Games, while every little about detail footballers' lives is known publicly. We see them playing one or twice a week, we know what they get up to at training, their slip-ups, their every coming and going, even their hairstyles!

Usain Bolt of Jamaica leads the field to win the Men's 200m final on Day 13 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games
Full screen
Usain Bolt of Jamaica leads the field to win the Men's 200m final on Day 13 of the Rio 2016 Olympic GamesIan WaltonGetty Images

Olympians fill us with pure admiration

Olympians – in their anonymity – meanwhile, work day in day out with only fatigue and muscle pain as company, accumulating a potency and distress that they’ll be able to put into practice on a certain day at a certain time. Generally, that is, during a lapse of time which is very brief – sometimes not even a minute, other times even less – where they call on all those intense efforts form the previous four years of training. Yes, there are European and World Championships too, but they’re not followed nearly as much. Athletes only really emerge at the Olympic Games, when they really face the music and dance, either rising to the occasion or ultimately letting themselves down. Whatever happens though, they fill us with joy, other times with distress, but always with pure admiration.

Football is pandemonium, the Olympics are profound 

Then suddenly it’s all over and another four-year cycle begins. The anonymity, the fatigue and the pain start all over again, but the pride of having participated at an Olympics never dissipates, whether they leave with a medal or not. To be an Olympian is a superior privilege. Casillas and Ronaldo (the original gordito) both confessed to me on separate occasions regret at not having gone to an Olympic Games. All the brilliance of their respective careers didn’t manage to kill off such a longing. Yes, today La Liga kicks off, that formidable pandemonium that uplifts our lives, but the Olympics are where sport is at its most profound.