Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Thoughts on the Olympics

My children have been thoroughly enjoying the Olympics: being allowed to stay up late to watch the games, being introduced to some new sports, and fantasizing about their future Olympic careers. They have also received some valuable insight into the dishonesty and questionable ethics that goes on behind the scenes. Grucci has admitted the fireworks in the opening ceremony were augmented by digital enhancement. The 9-year-old girl who sang in that ceremony was actually lip-syncing for a 7-year-old who has not passed the cuteness test. Bela Karolyi is adamant that the Chinese female gymnasts are under the legal age limit of 16.

And yet, how could I begrudge those girls the gold medal they fought for and won? I repeated for my girls the news broadcasters’ description of how Chinese toddlers are weeded out of daycares and taken from their parents at the tender ages of 2 or 3, only to see them once or twice a year while being put through the grueling training required of their athletes. American gymnasts have a walk in the park compared to these youngsters, being permitted to have a normal childhood until serious training starts at the age of 10. And their self esteem is always being guarded, while defeat for a Chinese athlete translates into shame for themselves and their families. My heart breaks for the little souls whose families are stolen from them, and the families who think they are bettering themselves in the process.

We watch in awe as Michael Phelps wins gold after gold, mainly concerned with beating his own previous world records. There are so many lessons to be learned by watching these games together.

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