Vai Rio: Why I’m Rooting for Rio this Summer!

I’m not good at writing these types of things.

Political and newsworthy items are not my forte.

No, I’m more of a cheesy stories about my kids, about my sports teams that have a tradition of sucking, or accidentally offending people because we all take things a bit personal, kind of writer.

But on the eve of the 2016 Rio Olympics I’m asking the media (both journalistic and social) to give Rio de Janeiro justice.

Sure, not much research went into this post.

I don’t spend countless hours on social media watching what’s trending. I don’t watch the local news and I gave up on the world news earlier this year when Donald Trump (and the media that pretended not to fall in love with him but did because it meant ratings) ruined my political party (again, I’m a white, pretty-much-middle-class, Christian male. How else do you think I vote?).

Okay, so The Donald may not have entirely ruined the Republicans, some of the blame has to be on the fools voters that lacked enough common sense to vote for anyone other than the dude that gave you nightly sound bytes.

Wow, I wasn’t supposed to go there but I did. Feels good to let my mind and fingers do the walking.

Anyway, I don’t follow the news so some of my facts may not be facts. Then again how much can you really believe from what you get from the news anyway right? Well, that’s another issue for … never.

So, on the eve of the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics I’m going to ask the media (both journalistic and social) and us high maintenance, if-it’s-not-‘Merica-it’s-weird Americans to cut our beloved second home (Brazil), and a city that has played an integral part in my life, a little bit of slack.

Yes, everything you’ve likely heard about Rio has been awful.

And why not? We’re a guilty-until-proven-innocent, half-glass-empty world these days.

That darn Zika virus deforming our unborn children! Poop in the water!  Hide your wife; hide your kids – you’re going to get robbed! An inhabitable Olympic Village! Dead body parts on the beach! Security issues! Political unrest! Lions, tigers and bears! Oh my!

Okay, so I’m joking about the last one (but thank you CBS Sports for the easy-to-reference article about how awful Rio’s going to be).

I have no doubt that those will be most of the story lines that dominate NBC’s coverage. Those along with a feature about the favelas in the hills of Rio, as if everyone in the country lives in tin cans built on top of other tin cans.

Let’s not forget the feature about samba dancing, as though everyone does samba (2-1/2 weeks in Brazil … zero samba. Thank God!), and the feature about the Amazon.

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My own photo from January 2003, overlooking Rio de Janeiro. Why does this photo look so dated?!

Let’s hope they show why Rio is called ‘Cidade Marvilhosa,’ the Marvelous City. What other major city of 12 million people sits on the Atlantic Ocean with white sandy beaches, and a beautiful, dark green mountain range in the backdrop?

Seriously, take out all the issues we hear about on the news and then name me a United States city that can compete with the natural beauty of Rio. I’m waiting.

Let’s hope they talk about the wonderful culture, and the amazing people of Brazil that, like the Christ the Redeemer statue that overlooks Rio, welcome you with open arms into their homes and into their families.

Photo not mine. Courtesy of Found the World.com.

I’ve mentioned it before and I’ll mention it again, the people of Brazil will bring you in and treat you like family – immediately. One of the main reasons I made the decision to ask Lis to marry me was because of the family that welcomed me, despite the extreme language (and culture) barrier. (And the family that even though it’s been seven years since I last saw them, takes them less than seven seconds to make me feel like I’m a part of them.)

Oh, and side note I wanted to mention in my prior post but didn’t … sharing is caring there. While we freak out about National High Five Day because we might have to touch a coworker on the hand, they pass around their drink or their food for all to share. And guess what?! We didn’t even get sick!

Yes, I’m defensive about our second home. I get that way up here, as I get that way down there about the United States (I mean we’re still the best right?!). And I’m especially defensive about Rio since it’s the city I asked my wife to marry me in.

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We got engaged here…but not on 1/2/1998.

Oh so romantic…on the beach in Rio…blah, blah, blah.

It’s also the city where we had to prove to the U.S. Embassy that we actually loved each other so we could move back to the United States. Lot of stinky 6-hour bus drives to Rio, but if you’ve got to spend a day somewhere, take me to Rio!

I’m rambling.

In my honest opinion, I think everything is going to be okay. And here’s why …

It’s winter in Brazil. Wait…winter?! But it’s not winter here! Ha! As Homer said in one of my favorite Simpsons episodes, “It’s opposite land! Crooks chase cops; cats have puppies; the hot snow falls up!”

Winter means less chance of mosquitoes. Less chance of mosquitoes means less chance of the Zika virus. By the way, the family and I returned from Brazil in July and we each had an average of 12-15 mosquito bites on our bodies. Guess how many of us returned with the Zika virus? If you answered, “NONE!” you answered correctly!

Poop in the water! Yes, this seems to be an issue. I don’t really have any rebuttal on this other than – well, that’s crappy! See what I did there?

Robberies! Uh…what big city (or even the small ones…like the town I currently live in) doesn’t have robberies? Maybe try not to wander away from the central part of town. Maybe you don’t flash your dollar bills. Maybe you don’t play that ignorant foreigner role, just for a day or two.

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Just an excuse to post a 13-1/2 year old picture of me and Lis at the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro.

First thing I was told when I landed in Brazil back in December 2002, “Hide your watch. It will be stolen!” I hid it and well, I haven’t found it since. Oh, and I’ve never been robbed or close to it in Brazil.

Inhabitable Olympic Villages? Okay, maybe you’re a 7-foot-tall NBA player making millions of dollars. Yah, the Olympic Village isn’t really going to be that suite you’re used to hiding your groupies in on the road. But from the looks of some of the athlete’s Twitter photos, the rooms and the village doesn’t look too bad.

NOTE: A simple search of ‘Olympic Village’ told me that the ballers will be staying on a luxury cruise ship. How convenient! Maybe you should’ve put some of your dingos, or whatever Australian money is called (I’m kidding, they’re called dollars), and gotten one of those instead of whining on social media about having to put together your own shower curtain.

Security issues? Again, what big city in modern day EARTH doesn’t have security issues! We’re always one whacked-out person away from another terrorism attack. Fingers crossed that it doesn’t happen in Brazil.

Political unrest? Yes, this isn’t the Brazil that was rewarded the Olympics seven years ago when Brazil was second to China on the list of Countries with the Biggest Upside.

When I first arrived in 2002 it was definitely close to third world-ish. The last few times it’s been great. Better infrastructure, roads, technology, the country has caught up with the how-do-you-say-important-without-being-offensive countries of the world.

Recently…not so much. The economy sucks. The political system is corrupt (whose isn’t?) and in turmoil (again, whose isn’t?), and well … a poll of my family says they weren’t too excited about the Olympics being played here.

But it doesn’t matter because they’re proud of their country. Their excited to be showcased. And well, they don’t really have much of a say!

My advice…be open minded. Enjoy the games for what they are…GAMES! And be thankful Michael Phelps, Missy Franklin, Simone Biles and my girl Serena Williams wear the red, white and blue!

After all ‘Merica damnit!

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