It seems like there is something for everyone in this Winter Olympics, and it’s easy to become an addict. The entire event is packed with heart-racing excitement as well as examples of natural talent, acquired skill, and athleticism. Don’t you just sit on the edge of your chair?
But there is more. While I am a believer in limited screen time for children, especially commercial television, the Olympics are providing our children (and us) with important lessons and messages that are hard to find in daily life, making the screen time well worth it. In fact, I think the Olympics give new meaning to the show title American Idol.
Did you watch Lindsay Vonn’s Gold Medal run in the Women’s Down Hill? My heart raced right along with her skis. Her elation upon winning was contagious. And her cathartic tears as she described the extreme effort she put forth, the result of which was achieving her goal and her dream, told the tale.
The same held true for Shaun White, the Red Tomato, and watching him was better than Cirque du Soleil! A fellow snow boarder described the amount of effort and time he put into his perfecting his tricks and style, “We didn’t see him for a year.”
The athletes of the Olympics are providing just the kinds of heroes we want our kids to have: people who dream big, who set goals, who have passion and devotion, who take risks, who work incredibly hard, who sacrifice who give their all.
Even though most of the events of the Olympics are individual, each athlete is part of a team, either a specific event team or the country team. Watching each participant cheer for his team mates, sharing the successes and the disappointments, is a magnificent demonstration of empathy and team loyalty. Sometimes you lose, but you really can be thrilled that your teammate has won at the same time.
Some of the athletes reached the moon; but most did not. And that is an equally, if not more important message. You can set you sights high, you can give your very best effort and still not win the medal. How often do our children get to see failure (of sorts), disappointment, modeled? Not very often. The athletes of the Olympics are models of sportsmanship. No tantrums and running away for them! And the best part? Those same skiers get up the next day, snap on their skis and try again…and again and again.
If you haven’t shared the lessons of the Olympics, you still have a chance. Take the time to introduce your children to some real idols, American and all the others.