What we love about the Olympics has actually little to do with sports and everything to do with those moments. The ones that make us cry; the one that make us scream; the ones that make us say to ourselves, "I can barely get up for a snack during the commercial, let alone train every day for 15 years straight." How do these super-humans do it?
Here are 10 golden moments from the summer games that still make me choke up:
10. Munich, 1972: Swimmer Mark Spitz wins seven gold medals
The tragic loss of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics in Munich cast a dark pall over these games. Thankfully, Spitz was on hand to raise the spirits of Americans back home who watched the 22-year-old butterfly and freestyle his way to seven gold medals -- a feat still unequaled by any other athlete in a single Olympiad. Swimming has never been as thrilling since.
9. Los Angeles, 1984: Carl Lewis makes history with four gold medals in track and field
Already a global celebrity, Lewis cemented the U.S.'s stake in track and field at these games. He began his gold-medal run by easily beating Jesse Owens' record in the 100 M and ended the games with a fourth gold with the relay team. For the first time since Owens first graced the field at the 1936 games in Berlin, Americans saw running as an art form.
8. Seoul, 1988: Sprinter Ben Johnson is stripped of his gold medal for using steroids
This was really hard to watch. On Sept. 24, the Canadian beat Carl Lewis in the 100 M final to win gold -- even declaring later that he would have been even faster had he not raised his hand in the air before the race's end. Unfortunately, it was the traces of the steroid Stanozolol found in his system that was his downfall. He was disqualified for doping, losing the Olympic title and, even worse, the respect of millions who watched happen. Ouch.
7. Barcelona, 1992: The Dream Team dominates, well, everybody
If "Fantasy Basketball" had existed in the early 1990s, this would have been the team. The Dream Team existed in a purer time in American sports, when athletes were still heroes and we still gave a hoot about professional basketball players.
6. and 5. Montreal, 1976 and Los Angeles, 1984: Nadia Comaneci's recording-breaking perfect 10; Mary Lou Retton becomes the first non-European gymnast to win the all-around title
At 14, Romanian prodigy Comaneci scored the first-ever 10.0 score on the uneven bars. Citing Comaneci as her inspiration, Retton was just 16 when she won the world over with her sweet smile and scored perfect 10s on floor exercise and vault to win the all-around title. Suddenly, a guy with a thick mustache named Bela Karoli became the most famous coach since Lombardi.
4. Seoul, 1988: Greg Louganis smashes his head on the diving board but rebounds to win gold
Louganis had been a favorite for two golds at the 1980 games in Moscow, but an American boycott stopped him from competing. Finally a contender in 1988, he suffered a terrible blow to the head while performing a reverse 2 1/2 pike in the prelims. Despite a concussion, he went on to ace the dive in the finals, winning the gold and the admiration of an awed global audience.
3. Atlanta, 1996: Michael Johnson shatters his own world record in the 200 M
It was the smile seen 'round the world when Johnson realized he'd just run the fastest 300 M of all time. Seems the nickname "The Man With the Golden Shoes" (for his flashy custom Nike racing spikes) was a prescient prediction of his Olympic destiny, too.
2. Los Angeles, 1984: Mary Decker (Slaney) is trampled by Zola Budd in the 3000 M
The gold medal-favorite Decker collided with South-African-born Budd at the 1700 mark, and Decker's slight body was thrown to the ground, her hip injured beyond repair. I don't think there was a sadder Olympic moment than the sight of her future husband, Richard Slaney, carrying a sobbing Decker from the track.
1. Atlanta, 1996: Kerri Strug lands a perfect vault on an injured ankle and makes us weep like babies
If you didn't get at least a little choked up seeing this, you officially have no heart. Shaking out her already injured ankle, her sweet face contorted in pain, Strug limped to the end of the runway and nailed her second vault -- then collapsed in agony to the mat. Carried off the mat by coach Karoli, Strug was officially her generation's Olympic hero and star of the most winning moment ever broadcast during the summer games.