Monday, August 6, 2012

Greedy for Gold

I don't know about you, but in our house, the Olympics have taken over.  Jason and I have stayed up late every night watching the broadcast coverage.  During the day, the kids are enjoying flipping through the other sport channels to watch the events that aren't popular enough for main coverage.  We have all enjoyed watching together, cheering on our favorites, and the kids have loved learning about events they never really knew about.

One of the most popular events in our house has been both men's and women's gymnastics.  Both Sophia and Sebastian are itching to be enrolled in gymnastics, so they were very interested.  Sebastian, watching the men, was fascinated and kept saying, "Will I learn to do that?"  It has been a joy for me as a parent to watch the wonder in my children's eyes at the amazing athletes gathered to compete. 

With that being said, is American sportsmanship dead? Why is gold the only medal that matters anymore? There was a time when it was an honor just to be able to compete in the Olympics and ANY medal won was an impressive accomplishment.  Yet all the commentators talk about is gold.  When Michael Phelps won one of his fifty bazillion Olympic medals it was amidst comments like "He must be so disappointed he didn't get the gold." Guess what - HE DIDN'T DESERVE THE GOLD! HE DESERVED THE SILVER! He didn't come in first, he came in second.  For that race, there was someone better than him.  That doesn't make him a bad swimmer, it doesn't make him a loser, so why do they have to imply that he sucks because he "only" got the silver? And the coverage - as soon as the US men's gymnastics team was obviously not going to medal, they stopped covering them at all.  They went back later and showed the other teams (who did medal), but essentially ignored any accomplishments the US men had.  I, for one, would have enjoyed watching them.  Maybe they weren't the best that night, but they were still good enough to make it to the Olympics which, to me, makes them pretty darn good.

Last night, I was so disappointed in the lack of sportsmanship shown by US gymnast McKayla Maroney.  She was so disappointed that she "only" got silver that she almost couldn't be bothered to even congratulate the Russian who did win.  I understand that she was hoping for the gold but hello - Girlfriend, you fell on your ass.  You're lucky you won the silver.  The Russian was so excited to win the gold (after her incredible vaults) that she was in tears.  When she turned to hug McKayla, McKayla had this horrified look on her face and obviously didn't want anything to do with her.  Then there was a stream of other competitors coming by to hug her and congratulate her on her silver win, and she was so cold that one competitor who tried to approach ended up turning and walking away.  It showed a true lack of sportsmanship and this attitude that gold is the only color that matters.

I know, she is not representative of all the athletes.  For her bad attitude, I have seen dozens of others showing joy and gratitude just for the chance to compete.  And, I must say, I appreciate that Kerri Walsh, after every match, makes sure to acknowledge all the Olympic "staff" that have been present for the match.  After she shakes hands with the judges, she runs all around the court high fiving and thanking everyone who has helped - from the ball boys to the water girls.  She is the only one I have seen do that, and I think that shows that not only is she an incredible athlete, but a kind and thoughtful person as well. Too bad we don't have more like her, not only representing the US, but representing us as PEOPLE.

"For all your learning, all your fame, all your eloquence and power, if you're not humble, you're worth nothing.  Cut out that ego that dominate you so completely - root it out.  God will help you.  And the you'll be able to begin to work for Christ in the lowest place in his army of apostles." - St. Josemaria, The Way #602