Why do people watch the Winter Olympics? The Olympics seem to be a really big deal, but sometimes wonder if everybody really is watching them,  or if the  magnitude of the games is just an illusion.

People who watch the Olympics may or may not be sports fans. It may simply be their sense of patriotism that compels them to watch and cheer for the red, white, and blue of the U.S.A.

For others, it's the thrill of the competition. Maybe we have never heard of these athletes before, and maybe we haven't even watched these particular sports since the last Olympics four years ago, but we are compelled to watch. Often times, an American isn't even contending for a medal, but  yet we watch.

Some people may watch simply  because they have an interest in  a particular sport, whether it is skiing, snowboarding, or ice hockey.

This weekend, I found myself  sitting in my living room watching the Women's Sprint Bialthon - maybe for the first time ever, and the Cross Country Skiathlon. I don't do these sports, I don't know anyone who does, and there were no Americans seriously contending for a medal. Yet, I watched.

For me, the reasons I watch the Olympics are a combination of things. Yes, I am extremely patriotic and love cheering for team U.S.A. Yes, I am a sports fan, and I love the thrill of competition, and watching the world's best athletes lay it all on the line after four years of hard work and dedicated effort.

I especially love the stories of the "old" athletes who are competing well past their prime, but yet are still performing at a high level. I find myself cheering for these athletes, regardless of what country they are from.

I may not always understand the rules, technical points and standards for judging in many of the Olympic events. But what I do understand regardless of the sport and regardless of the color of the uniform, is the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.