I am currently 6 days deep into complete and total Olympic submersion. I’ve ignored phone calls, have barely seen the light of day, and have had my TV on 24/7 without logging into Hulu once. I have sat through two meetings while secretly watching events and have hidden in a stairwell during work numerous times so that I don’t miss a beat. Every two years I turn into an Olympic obsessed mad woman. It’s what I do. So if you’ve been trying to reach me or wonder what I’m up to, leave your message at the tone. I’ll be back the 22nd.
The origins of my enchantment with the Olympics go back to 1990. As I’ve mentioned before, I was a swimmer growing up. While most girls were fawning over New Kids on the Block, I was drooling over Olympic swimmers like Summer Sanders, Jenny Thompson, and Janet Evans. My girl crush trifecta. The pinnacle of swimming is an Olympic gold medal so that was the kind of thing I thought about a lot. Of course there are the World Championships but the hype and coverage isn’t nearly as global or revered as it is on the Olympic stage. It just doesn’t get better than that.
Everyone watches baseball, football, and basketball on a regular basis so it makes me I-found-the-golden-ticket happy to see sports of all kinds getting credit and appreciation where it is due. These athletes work their asses off…literally. And trust me when I say it isn’t for the paycheck. Only a very very small percentage of athletes are able to make a living through endorsements. 11,494 Olympians are in Rio. Do the math.
There is something magical about it all. The world embraces one country’s culture and watches each country’s best compete for the ultimate title. It’s competition at its finest with roots dating back to the Greek Olympians. It’s like the Hunger Games with a 99% better survival rate…minus the Zika virus…and bobsledding. It is refreshing and marvelous and a whole hell of a lot better than the horrifiying stream of news we now receive on the daily. I’ve managed to go almost a week without being bombarded by the names Trump and Hillary. THAT, in itself, is a beautiful thing. Everyone shows up, global differences aside, as Olympians. There’s a lot of heart, a lot of talent, and a lot of sacrifice.
I think it’s especially important for children. Watch with your kids. Let them see what hard work, determination, and perseverance can do. Give them an idea of what winning looks like but also remind them that some of the best athletes in the world don’t always win. And that’s ok. Let them be comfortable with the idea of ‘you win some and you lose some’. There’s something to be said for sportsmanship and a lot of grace is involved.
And I must say, this every kid deserves a trophy thing is misleading and, quite honestly, damaging. We are supposed to be setting up children for success and the real world, not some menagerie of a land where you get a gold star just for showing up. When everyone gets a trophy, nobody wins. When I saw kids getting rewarded, I didn’t run home and cry. I thought- I want that. It made me want to work harder, it made me want to be stronger, it gave me a reason to fight and to EARN something. You can’t hand out trophies to everyone so no one’s feelings are hurt. It’s impractical and coddles unrealistic notions.
Knowing your strengths AND your weaknesses is an asset. It’s a gift. You learn what you’re good at and where you fit on the team. Or maybe you learn that sports aren’t your thing. I will say, however, that I believe sports teach so much more than winning. I credit a lot of who I am today to my many years of participation.
You can understand me, join the obsession, or maintain that I’m a total lunatic but I LOVE THE OLYMPICS AND I’M NOT AFRAID TO SHOW IT!!!! Let’s go USA!!🏅🇺🇸
PS- Next week I will be in the midst of my Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) trip north to Seattle. In my absence I have elected a most worthy, equally -if not more-hilarious candidate and friend Erin Dawn Pickett Feiger to fill my shoes. Prepare yourself for hilarity. If you thought I was sarcastic….