Passing the Torch: Some Loose Ends and Reflection

Two hours ago, I was moving boxes into my dorm room, and now I’m writing this entry at my new desk. Still, I’m having trouble believing that the summer is almost over! Before classes start, I have some finishing touches to put on the substance of my paper, then I’ll take a break for a few days to start the semester. At some point soon, I also need to adapt my paper into a script for the research showcase!

I learned a lot this summer about the history of the Olympics and all the side concepts that fascinated (some would say “derailed”) me along the way, but I also learned about how I approach the research process. Namely, I’m very easily distracted by new vocabulary words and names and movements, and my definitions section of my paper is significantly longer as a result. It also incorporates some of a literature review as well, not just definitions but commentary. Currently, I have nine key words and pages of explanations, not so much for a reader’s benefit but because I think the difference between a state and nation is fascinating. As I become more experienced with research, I think I’ll be more focused, taking my proposal and answer its questions without running down every side avenue I encounter. It’s still been a great experience to let these sidenotes grow, though.

Looking back at my proposal, I was very focused on a compare-and-contrast approach between case studies — Moscow and Sochi, specifically, trying to look at the political and cultural climates of the 1980 and 2014 Games in the former USSR and modern Russia. I wanted to try and use two isolated international sporting events to zoom out and say something about “the nature of international conflict,” to quote my proposal almost six months ago. Once I got going with my ideas, however, I definitely kept the same goal the entire time. As my proposal reminds me, I wanted to look at conflict throughout the Olympics and the political and cultural reasons behind that conflict.

Looking forward to my soon-to-be-complete paper, I focused on this second stage, the macro analysis, with Moscow and Sochi examples along the way rather than my focus. I found globalization as a common ground, with nationalism and commercialism two aspects or threads of globalization that roughly cover the same territory as politics and domestic values. Even writing this, it’s overwhelming how much information is out there, how much I still want to clarify and say and connect, and how much time it would take to properly address what globalization and its components have done to the formerly free-standing Olympic movement. Looking at globalization as a turning point, not just taking case studies in isolation, does the complexity of the topic more justice, although there are still significant gaps in the body of knowledge.

In the next few days, I hope to make sure I have a coherent argument (fingers crossed), then I’ll go back through my sources and try to incorporate leftover details and statistics where they fit. At the end of the day — or summer — I may not have followed my proposal exactly, but I know I’ll have an ultimately more sophisticated paper and presentation for it. Rather than comparing and contrasting two Olympics less than three decades apart, I was able to really examine all angles of Olympic history and find something worth arguing: that globalization is undermining the Olympics. Crafting this argument stretched my research skills, honed my academic writing, and introduced me to new ideas I really look forward to exploring in more detail, in and outside of the classroom.

Congratulations to those researchers who have finished and good luck to those powering through, and I’m excited to hear what we’ve all been up to for the past few months. And of course, I can’t wait to share my findings with you all at the research showcase!


  1. Just reading this brief reflection on your project was so interesting! Your topic sounds like it really got at some of the underlying political contexts that definitely come into play during all Olympics, and I think tracking the effects of those international tensions over time is such a cool idea. I have no idea how you came up with this topic but it sounds fascinating, and I think your conclusion that globalization is undermining the Olympics is a really strong one. I can’t wait to see how your paper turns out and how your research supported this conclusion! It also sounds like you learned a lot about the way you write (I’m totally on the same boat with getting side tracked on related concepts). Keep up the great work!