If you are like any average ignorant high schooler in Taipei, then the only reason why you know “Universiade”, a word that even my laptop refuses to recognize and keeps underlining in red, is because the event is going to be hosted here.
Or maybe, it’s just me.
I learned about this worldwide university sports event, second only to the Olympics in scale, through the most obnoxious way possible – an advertisement.
And not just any advertisement, but the kind funded by the city and carved into large shrubs growing on a platform at the center of a traffic roundabout. Just so you had no way of crossing the street without at least skimming the whole arrangement in bland curiosity.
And that is exactly what I did for the past semester.
Every day, I would trip off the bus, still caught in a sleep-deprived daze, and trod to the crossroads, rubbing the sleep out of my eyes, while ornamental bushes stared at me from across the street, demanding that I pay attention to them.
But not without good reason.
The Universiade is an event worth noting, not just because it is advertised in the form of vegetation, but more importantly because it is an open platform for all university students to try their hand at professional sports.
Yes, you can argue that the Olympics serve the same role, perhaps even better than the Universiade, since the Olympics extends its invitation towards those of all ages, but oftentimes I feel the opposite. What I see is a competition so honed, so intent on producing the most medals and the best sportsmen through national institutions, that a population of athletes, those who aren’t the best or most hardworking, but are still eager to compete, are left behind.
Yet, through the Universiade, they now have a chance to put themselves out there, especially if they are university students, or in my case, soon-to-be university students.
Not that I am anywhere good enough to compete in anything, but hey, what’s wrong with dreaming? Just knowing that such a possibility is open to me in the future, that it may, in fact, be me doing backflips before a roaring crowd, or me delivering the final blow with a swing of my badminton racket, transforms the Universiade into much more than a simple sports event.
It is, in fact, an open path for the future, something less of a dream, faraway and outrageous, and much more of a goal, pending and possible.
For those who can count on one hand the years till university rolls around, the Universiade is truly an excitement to behold.
And for that reason, I look forward to the event this summer.
But, you know, just not in the early dregs of the morning, on a blue Monday, with only five hours of sleep to boot and no coffee in hand.
Probably wait till school is over, when you are refreshed from a mid-afternoon nap during class, and when you finally have internet access to google whatever the heck the Universiade is first.