Congratulations to the U.S. women fencers: Mariel Zagunis (Oregon-Gold), Sada Jacobsen (Silver), and Rebecca Ward (Bronze).
Michael "Fish Stick" Phelps is simply an amazing swimmer. Six Gold medals and six world records so far. Extremely impressive.
Hopefully these folks are following their bliss. Hopefully all the hard work and sacrifice is worth it, especially to themselves.
In the late summer of 1968, I was 11 and managed to shatter my elbow (stupid rope-swing bravado), ending up at home in bed for a month. All my friends were out playing ball, etc., and I was SO bored.
Then I fell in love. I?d never heard of them... The "Olympic Games" were in Mexico City. The greatest athletes in the world, with drama internally and externally!
Dick Fosbury: The ?Fosbury Flop?
Bob Beamon: The staccato long-jumper
At the awards ceremony, Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their black-gloved fists as a symbol of Black Power.
George Foreman winning the gold for heavy weight boxing champ, and walking around the ring with a tiny American flag in his hand.
I could not wait for 1972! And I managed not to be in traction.
From Portland, OR
I have been a wrestler for 21 years and have represented the United States in international competition at various age levels 4 times (3 world championships and 1 cultural exchange trip). During my competetive stage I considered the possibility of pursuing an Olympic spot (I had trained at 2 Olympic training centers at that point). After examining the commitment needed (family time, extensive training, cutting weight, coaching, lifestyle sacrifices) and the benefits (brief national recognition, personal accolades from family & friends, a shoe deal) I didn't think it added up in favor of pursuing a spot on the Olympic team.
I don't think the pay-offs and benefits of Olympic team membership are the same for every sport. For some sports the pay-offs are much greater than they are for wrestling, while the sacrifices needed may not be as strenuous. When using examples like Phelps, keep in mind the thousands who go to the Olympics and place silver or bronze and are not widely remembered or recognized even 1 year after the competition.
In short, it depends on the sport.
I appreciate the caller talking about looking at it as a lifelong sport.
Someone on "World Have Your Say" the other day talked about de-emphasizing the Olympics and re-emphasizing sports as lifelong participation.
I wonder how many kids give up their sports because they decide that they can't make it to Olympic gold, when the real gold is in working out and having fun for the rest of their lives.
I can't believe you can't understand why Phelps was not overjoyed with a record-breaking gold medal performance when he had to swim the entire event with water-filled goggles and didn't meet the mark he knew he could make. He knew he didn't do HIS best, although arguably doing so well under that level of adversity could be considered BEST.
This was last night, not the night before. I don't think his googles were filled with water. Wow, unless it happened two nights in a row?
I guess what I saw last night that really struck me was that he looked like he was doing a job, and that he wasn't happy at all. This may say more about me than Phelps!
Good to hear Peter Foley on here.
We could ask if any pursuit of glory or fame is worth it. The competitive battle to outdo your rivals is rarely a noble affair, particularly when it is based primarily on the physical. The fact that so many reward this barbaric behaviour, view these athletes as celebrities, role models and heroes only encourages the warriors.
I appreciate that some people are willing to work so hard to explore the boundaries of human performance. And I appreciate the scientists that study everything related to doing just that. So many superstitions and beliefs have been disproved about the limits of humans and I think that's great.
I'm not so impressed with what commercialism does to distort sports. The media has been whining about how the Chinese government picks and trains athletes but here in the US our sports companies essentially buy the best athletes from foreign countries, arrange for them to become US citizens, then they get lauded as performing for America. That cuts down on support for actual US sports to develop US kids.
I might appreciate the dust in the corners, which is perfectly fine, but it is also important to keep things in perspective.
Our views and worship of athletes and their physical ability is excessively out of perspective.
It isn't just commercialism that distorts sports---it is also there competitive nature.
"Our views and worship of athletes and their physical ability is excessively out of perspective."
Your view and probably many others, but not mine.
"It isn't just commercialism that distorts sports---it is also there competitive nature."
One thing I've learned in sports is that I compete against myself. Summudy out there is always better than me, sooner or later, somewhere or other, and the only thing I can do is try and achieve the highest level of human potential that I am capable of. And that's why I cheer on the people who go out there and do their best against apparent obsessive genetic aberrations like Michael Phelps.
Phelps just shows the current outer boundaries and all the others, well I hope that they swim out of their heads and push themselves beyond what their minds limited them to do. You gotta dance on the edge to find out where the edge is for yourself and sometimes you fall. And that's when you learn something about your self.
Society or culture rewards the winners, but every participant has to learn to reward themselves for what they achieved on their own, for how much they pushed out their own boundaries.
I think that's why we cheer when a baby takes her first steps, we acknowledge her for pushing herself and learning something she previously did not know how to do. She competed with herself, she danced on her own edge and probably fell many times before she pushed out her boundary.
To the athletes who used to swim, and found it not to be a social activity later in life; try Triathlon! The swim is often the most difficult part for people, and if you don't want to do the bike and run, you can find two other people to do it with as a team.
I'm glad you had two people talk about the mental part, one guest and one caller.
That showed up in gymnastics where you know the person has the skills, the muscle memories, all trained up but the psychological gets out of line.
I'm a professional ballet dancer and have always known that sports training has so many parallels to dance training. Listening to the show this morning made it even clearer to me than ever how similar the two pursuits are. Dancers aren't training for one ultimate competition like the Olympics, but there are still concrete and quantifiable goals we strive for that define our achievement levels as dancers.
Anyway, as far as the so-called sacrifices young kids make to study and train in one discipline, aiming for elite levels of ability--- I don't believe there ARE any sacrifices! There is simply no comparison between the gratification, emotional and psychological development, and pure joy and satisfaction that come from training hard at something you love, and the "regular" or "normal" teenage lifestyle. And the maturity a young person develops from such focus puts them light-years ahead of kids who don't have something so meaningful and powerful to delve into.
I never, ever felt I was missing out on anything as a kids or teenager training for a professional ballet career. In fact, I pitied my schoolmates that didn't have something like ballet to do after school! The last thing I wanted in the world would have been to just hang out, maybe play softball, go to the mall, go to the prom... I didn't miss a thing, and I don't think any kid who does feel like they're missing out will stay with their sport long enough to actually miss it.
Around 1961 a big story was of a javelin thrower from South America who set an astounding world record by grabbing one end of his javelin with both hands, spinning around like a hammer thrower and then releasing it at just the right time.
Then they changed the rules to disallow that technique.
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