Going For the Gold: What Bothers Me About the Olympics…

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I have to admit I’m one of the few people who don’t enjoy watching the Olympics.

I could barely bring myself to watch any of the competitions this year, even though the television was always tuned to them because the rest of my family loves to watch (somehow the coverage seemed to be focused on the curling competition  50% of the time!)  .  I realize that what I am going to say in this article will anger some and will certainly surprise some.  But after watching the last three or so Olympic Games and thinking the same thing, I’m going to publicly state my feelings about them.

The Olympic games seem to  market the belief that perfection is the ultimate goal, and that winning is just about everything.  Go for the gold is the routine mantra – why would anyone want anything else?

Many of the competitors seem as if they’re produced by human robot factories which create super-human beings who are programmed for perfection and the task of winning (many from other countries).  It seems that for many, their entire lives are given to these goals, practicing hours and hours each day. Sacrificing a normal life for the life of an Olympic star athlete. And not only the athlete, but their families as well. Their lives are given up for the cause – to make an international athletic star.  But at what price?

And what about remembering the fact that humans make mistakes; after all, that is part of being human.

When a child starts his training at four-years-old, and this is what his life is focused on, what else is that child missing? As they grow older, they can’t participate in the normal acts of growing up – some don’t even go to school with other kids.  Supporters may say that if this is what makes them happy, then what’s the harm?  But in reply, I say that I’ve never met a very young child who wanted to spend all of his free time concentrating on one thing, constantly focused on improving his skills. Practicing, practicing, practicing.  Have you?

America is probably not as obsessed with the development of Olympic star athletes as some of the other countries.  But some athletes from other parts of the world focus their entire lives on one day winning an Olympic gold medal, and if they don’t, they would be disappointing not only themselves, but their entire country, and would lose the support of their countrymen. To these athletes, not winning the Gold, or at least a medal, is total failure.

How terribly sad is that?

It’s wonderful to have special skills, and it’s great to enjoy using and developing those skills.  But when children are pushed into working hard to win, win, win (yes, I said PUSHED), what is the collateral damage?

So what if they’re not perfect; so what if they don’t win the gold medal?  This has nothing to do with their personality, who they really are.  They are no less a person because they don’t win; if anything, their character might be strengthened.  Are fame and glory and the fact that you’re THE BEST really worth what must surely be given up in return?

 

2 Thoughts

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