SINCE I FIRST reported on the Olympics as more than 30 years ago, news coverage has steadily encroached on sporting coverage. Commentators now speculate as never before about the decline of the Games—wondering whether London 2012 mightn't perhaps see the end of this extraordinary quadrennial gathering of the world's athletes.

Frank Deford suggested a few weeks ago on National Public Radio that the "big show" might be viewed as an "unnecessary excess." He said the Olympic Games had "ended up as a festival for those sports that nobody much cares about for the other three years and 50 weeks."

In complete contrast, former Olympic track-and-field coach and Olympic historian John Lucas, who has attended every one of the Games for the past 48 years, digs beneath the surface to identify spiritual qualities and lessons he's convinced will hold the Games together for many years to come.

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