Monday, July 23, 2012

Olympic Rings

I wasn’t born with the ‘watching sports’ gene. I have never had a favorite team. I was raised in a house where the Miss America contest was what brought the family together for a night of personal selections and discriminating tastes. I have never felt a particular affinity to my college team. I was on the cheer team in elementary, middle school, high school, and college, which had NOTHING to do with the love of the game and everything to do with the outfits we got to wear! But come to my house and you will see a room devoted to sports. Which sport you ask? All of them. Cause naturally what a NON-sports loving girl does is marry a SPORTS FANATIC! When I married him on the beach in Mexico we had to “hurry it along” because the Suns were in some playoff. Yup, I still said “Yes”. It could have been my last clean break. So here I sit surrounded by sports memorabilia about to admit a very strange fact about myself. You see, I absolutely am bored to death (yes, to death) watching sports whether on TV or at the event. I would rather take a hockey puck to the eye than go to a game. I do however love the crowd watching. I once sat through an entire playoff game and DID NOT once watch the game. I believe I was searching for the cotton candy guy. My strange fact: I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE the Summer Olympics! Perhaps because I only have to watch it once every four years. I watch the trials. I follow the athletes on every social medium available. I ‘LIKE’ their photos on Facebook. I’m opinionated about their apparel and where it was made. I follow the torch (and have been known to use my ice cream cone as a replica). I bought the Life magazine that chronicles each American athlete’s road to success. I study their family lives and I look for the traits that make them posses that drive and that spirit. Over the years I have studied my fascination with the games and have concluded that I like the Olympic games because of its representation of what is possible with hard work, a loving family, and personal drive. Are we all born with these genes or do they develop over time? Did Michael Phelps mother give birth to a mega-athlete or did her kind words and loving support let her child know that he could do it? One Olympian on the equestrian team said,” You know you are truly dedicated to something when you lie about being hurt so no one will make you stop” after he fell off of his horse. That’s drive! A coach of an athlete who was injured said, “as she fell down on her ankle I knew right away she was out for the rest of the game but when I got to the bench she was ready to go back on the court. When I asked her about it she said the ankle is a long way from the heart”. Olympic athletes are everyday people that found their passion. Sure, some of them are born into families where mommy and daddy were fierce competitors. And some were regular kids whose mom and dad put them in the water, or in a gym, or on a horse, or on a field with a ball, and said, “I like watching you have fun”. A favorite quote of mine is “Mothers don’t just drive their kids to practice, they drive them to greatness”. This I find is part of the ‘magic ingredient’ to making a child successful. A lot of what a child can do in their life begins with what is between their ears. GET YOUR HEAD IN THE GAME. We hear this all the time when watching sports. What are you filling your child’s head with? This might be what separates the average from the elite. This year 205 nations will participate in 300 events. There are 10,490 athletes competing in the Olympic Games this summer, and 4,200 athletes competing in the Paralympic Games. That’s a lot of mommies and daddies doing their jobs! I am blessed with athletes in my family. I didn’t feed them any special meals; read them any special books to give them the drive that they have (good genes, maybe, but that’s a given). I put them in the car or on the plane and sat on a hard bleacher or a grass mound and WATCHED. That’s it folks. There’s the magic ingredient. You don’t need a mother and a father; you don’t necessarily even need two parents. You just need someone who’s got your back. But it’s more than watching them. I have seen their tears. I have felt their defeat. I have seen their eyes light up with nervous energy and excitement. I have listened. I have let them have space. I cheered. I videotaped. I sweated. I’ve clenched my hands in prayer. I’ve hugged. I’ve been their soft place to fall when their landing might have been a little rough. So, as the Olympics are about to begin and new seasons are starting in our own worlds, let’s remember what it takes to make a champions, whether on the field or in the classroom. It’s hot; we’re tired from work; there are To Do Lists; dinners to be made; life going on. The best athletes are made from INSIDE the home. So I’ll watch the Olympics from open to close and remember that there is a little one in the stands or on the couch that wants to be just like them. I can take care of the support and they will have to believe that they can do the rest! Dreams aren’t things that don’t come true, those are just fairy tales.

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