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What Are We Learning From The Olympics?

I love the Olympics.

I have ever since I was a child and I’d see the gymnasts do such amazing things. According to my mother, I used to walk on the back of the couch as if it was a balance beam. In my very early teens, I watched the US Men’s Gymnastics team win gold, and fell in love with Mitch Gaylord.

Mitch is the 3rd from the left.

As I got older, I’d watch the Olympics, rooting for the USA. I was always impressed with other athletes, but no matter what, I rooted for “Our Team” to win.

Now that I’m an adult and have children, I look at the Olympics slightly differently. Sure, I root for the US athletes MOST of the time, but I also look for athletes who are more than just good at what they do. I look for athletes I’d be proud to show my children.

This Olympics, I’ve seen some amazing athletes from all around the globe, and the ones who impress me most, and whom I love to show to my children, are NOT just the BEST. They’re the ones who show excellent sportsmanship.

The ones who inspire. The ones who are overjoyed when they get a silver.

The ones who run even when injured so their teammates have a chance at their dreams.

The ones who are just happy to make it to the  Olympics and compete.

The ones who have no track to run on, so they make one in the middle of a field.

The ones who hug their opponents without a scowl.

These are the moments we show the kids, and talk about how gracious the athletes are, and how they’re not throwing fits for getting a silver.

Then there’s the other side.

The ugly tears when silver is achieved, but not gold.

The one who shoves her coach aside when she made a mistake.

The one who cries in a corner instead of congratulating the winning opponent.

The ones who act like their lives are ruined for getting anything less than gold.

It’s moments like those when we talk about how unsportsmanlike it is to throw fits when you don’t win.

My husband tried to explain that “You don’t go to the Olympics to get a silver.” I suppose that’s right, to some degree. You go to the Olympics to do your best and hope to win, but with ALL the athletes competing against you – only ONE gets the gold. And as hard as it is to realize it, the fact is the chances of you coming home empty-handed is far greater than coming home with a medal.

So, athletes, I salute those of you who are true champions – with or without medals. I salute those of you who show all of us what perseverance, hard work, and dedication can do; however I salute those who show just how to be incredible sports and human beings even more. Thanks to those of you who are being true model athletes.

And to those of you who didn’t win. Go ahead and have a good cry at home. While you’re on the field or in the pool or in the gym – lift your chin up, hold your head high, congratulate the winners, and be proud of yourself for doing your best. And, if you didn’t do your best, don’t blame it on someone else.

 

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