// you’re reading...

Life Lessons

The Olympic Spirit — Not!

This weekend the Olympics arrive in our living rooms, and no doubt the TV commentators will be painting the picture of a winter wonderland.

Their portrait will not necessarily match the reality. In its current edition, Newsweek is offering up a different look, called “Fool’s Gold.” Summing it all up is the subtitle: How the Olympics and other international competitions breed conflict and bring out the worst in human nature.

You can read it here.

Every day brings a tension between the good and the bad that sports can do. For every inspiring story on the high school or college field, there are dozens of athletes who have dropped out of competitive sports. For every rousing pep rally on campus, there seems to be an athlete who’s arrested, flunked a course or had someone take a test for him.

In view of all this, it’s our job as coaches to celebrate the spirit of those who walk into our gym. They are taking a risk that we as coaches can scarcely comprehend. Joining a team involves giving up a part of yourself. It brings anxiety: Am I good enough? Will anyone like me?

Years ago, I knew a young woman who enjoyed recalling the first time she tried out for volleyball. She panicked when she peeked in the door, because she immediately saw that the other girls had better equipment and more specific attire than she did. Only some tender parenting got her to go through the door, and from there she became a star player.

Statistics show that most people drop out of competitive sports early in their teens. Maybe the fun goes out of it. For some, an interaction with a coach has bruised their feelings. Still others simply find something that they love more.

No matter what the reason why one individual or another may quit, coaches must try to engage every spirit who walks into the gym. Anything less is an Olympic-size loss of perspective.


No comments for “The Olympic Spirit — Not!”

Post a comment