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Olympics 2012: London’s Transformation Reminds Us All About The Magic Of Sports

How much can the Olympics do for one city? More than you might think- just ask the Brits.

These signs caused a sense of dread for Londoners not too long ago. Now, they bring excitement.
These signs caused a sense of dread for Londoners not too long ago. Now, they bring excitement.

We are now officially one week into the Olympics, and while we may be keeping track of how many medals each country wins or how well certain athletes perform (see Phelps, Michael), an equally interesting story is taking place across the pond.

The power of sports has transformed London during the span of these seven days.

When I arrived in the city a few weeks ago, I expected the area to be teeming with enthusiasm. It's been 64 years since the English capital last hosted the Games, which means that at least a few generations of Brits are on hand this time around that weren't around during the 1948 edition. Logic would suggest that this once-in-a-lifetime experience would lead to lots of energy in the city, right?

That certainly wasn't the case before the Games began. In fact, Londoners seemed to be more anxious than anything else. It makes sense: with lots of construction around the city- cranes litter the skyline in every direction- and a potential security crisis that didn't resolve itself until just before the Games began, there was plenty of reason to be anxious.

Whatever the cause, the lack of energy was "disconcerting" (to borrow Mitt Romney's phrase). And yet, in the span of one short week, London has turned around.

The magic of sports, the magic of competition, has led the Brits to start embracing a more upbeat atmosphere. All the preparation that seemed to take a toll on this city is paying off in the form of high-quality competition on the biggest of international stages, and the citizens of London are enjoying every bit of it.

The events, even ones in which the UK athletes don't play a prominent role, are significant talking points in the streets. People are stopping by at overstocked bars on the way back from work to check out the latest events each day, swapping conversation with tourists from around the world along the way. Team GB gear is selling rapidly, and the official Olympics stores have lines stretching out in front as more people try to get in.

This level of transformation is a big deal for a city that appeared emotionally drained not long ago. Whether they realize it or not, the citizens of London have fallen privy to the power of sports and its ability to completely capture our attention.

It's a wonderful thing, and we're all better for it. The best is still to come from London during these Olympic Games, both in terms of the actual sporting events and the level of excitement among the host city's populace.