'What can you do? It's Russia'

The small complaints about these Olympics won't abate. What can you do? It's Russia. That's what people will say when the bathroom floods or the waitress forgets the beer. It's a fine explanation, an appeal for understanding, but that's just what Russian authorities have designed these Olympics to overcome. Russia wants to hold itself to a higher standard now. Everywhere you turn, you hear that the Olympics have been prepared on a "very high level." Yes, the bobsled track is beautiful, and so is the Rosa Khutor ski resort, though there is plenty else besides that inspires little confidence. In Sochi, there is no single perception.

These are not the Olympics of the bad media hotel. No one cares about that. Sadly, however, these are not going to be an Olympics of athletic competition; there is too much that overshadows the sports. Hopefully, these will not be the Olympics of logistical collapse or, far worse, terrorism. Ultimately, these probably will be the Olympics of perception, of modern ideological combat.

Let's see how these Games play out before we rush to judgment. All along, all the Russian state wanted was a chance to show that Russia is a modern, forward-looking country. Over the next two weeks, Russia will have this chance. So as I sit here in my dorm room, I ask myself: Can't we all just get along?

Brett Forrest is a contributing writer for ESPN The Magazine. Follow him on Twitter ( @brett_forrest).

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