I am going through a little bit of Olympic withdrawal.

For most of the Vancouver games, my family and I met at the television every night to watch the Olympians compete.

Now that it is over, I feel like something is missing.

I usually reserve this type of Olympic enthusiasm for the summer games, but for some reason the winter games grabbed my attention this year.

I admit, the fact the United States' athletes more than held their own against the rest of the world earning the most medals in the games had a lot to do with my investment of time.

But I wasn't the only one.

My wife could be heard cheering on speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno as he circled the track, in what seemed like nightly races that resulted in him winning medal after medal.

There was the drama of downhill skater Lindsey Vonn, first her injured shin made us wonder if she would race. Then weather delayed her races until she was good to go so good, in fact, she medaled twice, once gold and finally she crashed her final three races to end her Olympic run.

More locally, Curt Tomasevicz, of Shelby, Neb., helped the U.S. four-man bobsled win gold. Not very often do the Olympics hit so close to home. Sometimes the world can get pretty small.

Although I am not a big hockey fan, the run made by the U.S. team was fun to watch. Even though they lost to the Canadians, having the home team win seemed fitting.

While we focus on the Americans, there are more stories than the ones draped in red, white and blue.

My favorite was Canada's Joannie Rochette, whose mother died days before her daughter was to compete in figure skating.

While I am not much for figure skating, I, like the rest of the country, was drawn in by her desire to compete after losing her mother.

That act, more than any medal, is what draws us to the games.

It gives us a chance to be a little less egocentric about our country and to understand that every Olympian has a mother and father who sacrificed so their child could compete against the world's best. And the athletes have dedicated so much for their moment on the world's stage that happens once every four years.

Imagine working in anonymity for four years for one chance to shine. It takes a special athlete. It takes a special person.

In this day and age when professional and collegiate athletics are constantly under fire sometimes by their own doing it is refreshing to see those who compete for the pure athletic joy of trying to be the best.

Sure, there is money to be had. Two-time Olympic gold medal snowboarder Shaun White is among those who have certainly reaped the financial benefits of his sport, but that was joy on his face after winning gold, not dollar signs in his eyes.

As long as someone can figure out a way to get paid for doing something few others dare, money will figure into the equation. It takes sponsorships to afford to travel and compete.

But the Olympics are about more than green. They are gold and silver and bronze. The games are about the spirit of competition and bringing the world together, and it is priceless.

Patrick Murphy, of Columbus, Neb., is the former assistant managing editor of The Telegram.