It is in fact the miraculous force that animates all great art as well as great athletes. Call it spirit, the divine spark, the breath of life — it is the transcendent element that lifts us up when we're down and out, the source of courage, and the soul of inspiration. Strangely, we're not quite sure where it comes from, where it goes when it's crushed, or how to revive it. We just know we need to be in touch with it, which is one reason we turn to art, drama, poetry, and sports, especially the Olympic Games, the most watched television event on earth. As the Games unfold every four years, we may be impressed by the skills of the world's greatest young athletes; but what moves us is what novelist and soccer fan Nick Hornsby calls "the thrilling flash of their spirit." That mysterious movement of spirit — from an athlete's aspiration for a great performance to our inspiration from witnessing it — is at the heart of the age-old fascination with all great games.

Phil Cousineau, The Olympic Odyssey