Monday, February 17, 2014

5 Life Lessons from Watching the Olympics

Why Is the Olympics Special?

I didn’t take sudden leave of my senses and decided to encourage TV watching. Normally our daughter watches about an hour of TV a week, and even that is rare. However, during the first week of Olympics we all gathered together in the evening and watched recorded Olympic events. The Olympics is the gold mine of learning opportunities, but this post is not about learning facts. Watching big sports events, especially in different disciplines, can teach valuable value and life lessons to our children.

1. Ability to Handle Pressure

It was interesting to watch so many “favorites” not rising to expectations, partially due to enormous pressure placed on them by their countrymen and by themselves. Pressure to perform is not limited to sports as anyone who has ever taken an important test knows all too well. We keep talking with our daughter about good and bad ways to handle stress and pressure and hoping that these conversations will stick with her when she is older.

2. Losing Gracefully

So Shaun White didn’t win a medal in Sochi, but I was glad to be able to point out to my daughter how he handled his defeat. Immediately after his performance, he hugged and congratulated a Swiss winner and then gave a balanced interview where he didn’t blame weather, competitors, judges or anyone else for his performance. So often losing can be a much more valuable lesson than winning.

3. Ability to Recover From Mistakes

We watched men’s free program in figure skating marveling at complexity of choreography and wincing at the mistakes made by so many athletes. It was fascinating to watch Yuzuru Hanyu from Japan fall on his first quad jump, get up and land a perfect quad, only to fall again later. Back to point number 1, his Canadian competitor couldn’t handle pressure and made enough mistakes himself to help Yuzuru win a gold medal for Japan. It was a very good opportunity to point out to our seven year old that one mistake doesn’t mean the end of the world in competitions or in other life situations, and that one needs to be able to shrug it off and keep going.

4. Give Your Best to Your Team

Back to men skating, it was amazing to see Evgeny Pluschenko skating at team competitions after having a back surgery last year. It was clear from his performance how much it meant to him and how much it cost. He didn’t hold back and didn’t have enough strength left for individual events, but I tried to explain to my daughter how his efforts in team competition made him a hero to his country.

5. Sacrifice Your Comfort In Reaching Your Goals

I think NBC is doing a great job this year in comparison to the Olympics in Vancouver broadcasting more events and not focusing exclusively on American athletes. We also enjoyed learning more about different athletes and their journey to Sochi. Nobody became an overnight success – both athletes and their families had to sacrifice a lot in getting to the top of their field. This is one lesson that doesn’t sit well with Smarty who is used to easy success. She assured us that she is not at all interested in becoming an Olympic champion, and the only job that she would be interested in taking would be picking up flowers with other children after skaters. I am interested to hear in how other parents teach their children work hard for their goals.

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    maryanne @ mama smiles said...

    I am always inspired by the athletes who go to the Olympics and give it their all when they have no chance of getting a medal. I find that very inspiring - they do it to represent their people, and I'm sure they do get some valuable exposure from it, but it is clearly also out of a love for the sport.

    Marie-Claude Leroux said...

    What a wonderful perspective - you've given me much to think about, and I now feel remiss for not taking the time to watch them with the kids!

    Kelly said...

    I love all your teaching points. We've been recording and watching in the evenings too. The kids are captivated by the Olympics.
    Kelly at Little Wonders' Days

    Ticia said...

    What a great post! So many great points, I agree there is so much we can learn from the Olympics, and like you said not just geography or about the sports, but about the people and what it takes.