Monday, March 01, 2010

Going for the Gold

I love watching the Olympics, and I love rooting for my country. I always want Americans to win the most gold medals.

And yet I can't help but think that wanting an Olympic gold is a foolish goal. Preparing for it is excellent, of course. Making it to the Olympics and trying your best to win is spectacular. But there are those athletes that just don't seem to be pleased with themselves unless they win a gold medal. Neither silver nor bronze is good enough.

Now, I don't know what it's like to be a professional athlete, and I don't know what it's like to spend most of my waking hours training each muscle in my body to do what I tell it to. The physical, emotional, and mental demands on an athlete's life must be grueling. Perhaps the only consolation for a life devoted to sport is to win an Olympic gold.

Would I be a bad parent, though, if I told my future children that no matter how hard they train, there might be someone better? That there might be someone with a faster time, a younger body, or higher endurance? Do I tell them that silver is good enough? That it's essentially as good as gold (because it truly is, in my book)?

I think it's extremely harmful to think that you can be the absolute best at something. What happens to your worldview, if you find out that you're not, in fact, the best? We might all be the best at what we do, but maybe we're all the best at alternating moments. If that's the case, then an athlete—or anyone else—shouldn't be so hard on themselves, if they aren't number one at a given moment in time.

But how do you teach that to a child without crushing his or her hopes and dreams? How do you teach that without causing them to think that something's not worth trying?

Thing I'm thankful for: a bed to sleep in and a place to keep my things.


Blogger Sara said...

I think you're just supportive and generally the universe takes care of some of the other stuff.

I was a little upset when I got to middle school and realized that other girls could sing well, too, but I knew I was my parents' favorite at least!

1:21 PM  
Blogger Jacki said...

My mom and i were just talking about this topic. Those athletes have sacrificed so much in their lives. I would take a well rounded kid over a gold medalist anyday!

6:39 PM  
Blogger Sara said...

Well, who says these kids aren't well-rounded? They may be. I just don't want them thinking that they will be the best all the time -- they have to be prepared for failure at some point . . . Also, who says being the best is . . . the best? I think it's okay to not be no. 1.

7:58 AM  
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