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Why We Watch The Olympics – Kids Need Inspiration To Achieve

by Sarah on July 25, 2012

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I was finishing up some dishes when I glanced out my kitchen window . . .

There she was – my 5 year-old aspiring track star.

Hair slicked back in a tight ponytail, a swimsuit and bike shorts and shoes with no socks . . . Except for the cheeks and round little girl belly, she looked just like the track stars we’d just been watching on TV half an hour earlier.

And she was doing laps around the house.

You should have seen the fierce look on her face.

In her mind, she was already hearing the crowds cheering as she shot across the finish line in her future race.

Watching those super athletes on TV had planted a seed in her fierce little mind. And she was out there helping that seed grow.

See, I’m all for getting kids away from the TV and moving more. But TV can also serve a purpose here.

Since my children have been tiny, we’ve spent many an afternoon or evening watching sports on TV. The Olympics, football, track and field, soccer, mixed martial arts and Ninja warrior are our favorites.

We watch because seeing these exceptional performances inspires our children to aspire.

Watching The Olympics Can Help Your Children Build Essential Muscles

Watching these amazing athletes gets them pumped up – ready (like my little track star) to get outside and start moving.

My children gain a vision of what they can do if they put their mind to it.

But thanks to the storytelling that accompanies most sports broadcasting these days, my kids are learning deeper lessons as well. It’s not just muscles in their arms and legs they’re building – they’re learning how to build mental muscle . . . 

  • They learn the hard roads so many champions travel. And the mental discipline it took for them to get to where they are.
  • They learn that success is not something handed to people but something fought for – over and over and over again.
  • They learn that more often than not, success comes after failure after failure after failure . . . And still finding the mental strength to keep trying.

We watched the Lolo Jones story on ESPN . . . In this, the champion hurdler describes clearing her biggest hurdles brought on by low self-esteem due to an absent father and poverty.

Her coach recalls how when he first saw her he thought she wouldn’t amount to much. She wasn’t a good runner or a good hurdler.

But she listened more intently than any athlete he had worked with. And worked harder than anyone to perfect her form. As Lolo describes it – hurdling was her way to feel like she was worth something.

We watched Strikeforce bantamweight champion, Ronda Rousey . . . And found out how she defeated fear with mental fortitude and hard work. Ronda fought back from brain damage at age 8 and her father’s suicide to become the first woman to become a world champion in judo and now she’s a champion in mixed martial arts.

(BTW, I love that she doesn’t smile that much – but when she smiles it’s genuine. She doesn’t smile to please. Girls and women need to see that!)

We watched together as would-be NFL players had to dig deep into their will power to get through grueling practices overseen by Michael Irvin in the reality show Fourth And Long. And even then . . . even with all that work . . . only two of them were going to get a spot on the Dallas Cowboys.

And as a mom in my 40′s, I’ve paid particular attention as Dara Torres was interviewed at the Olympic swimming trials. At age 45, she was trying for her sixth Olympic team. She just missed qualifying by less than 1/10 of a second. Nonetheless, she’s earned more than gold in my book by showing how much age is just a number in the face of hard work, smarts and determination.

These are lessons I strive to learn and I want my children to learn.

And they are potent tools for helping our children grow. My husband often reminds them of these stories when they’re struggling to focus on his coaching. He reminds them of the exhausted NFL wannabe’s when he’s urging them to do one more set of sprints.

Us Moms And Dads Need These Olympic Stories, Too!

I think about these stories myself.

Look, I’m not aiming for Olympic gold. And my aches and pains are nothing compared to what some of these athletes have endured.

But often enough I’ve chanted to myself, “You’re tough. You’re rough,” as I try to crest a tough hill on my bike, images of Dara’s push for the finish going through my mind.

These same reminders help me take on doing a little workout in the morning when I’d rather be sitting.

We need champions. Our children need them. We need to see them to remind us that . . .

We can aspire to great things.

And that the road to achieving these great things – whatever that means in your life – takes work, determination and perseverance

Watching These Inspiring Olympic Stories Doesn’t Just Help In Sports

These inspiring stories aren’t just about achievement in sports. It may be about writing a good book or growing the best tomato.

It may be about building a strong marriage.

I’ve used the same resilience-boosting touchpoints to help me break through lethargy in building my business.

I watch my daughter applying the lessons she’s learned in track to her diligent work in school

But wherever you apply these lessons, sports offer a unique way to build this mental muscle. Through sports our children can learn these hard life lessons in a relatively safe, structured and visceral way. And in most cases sports allows them to repeat the challenge over and over again and measure their progress easily.

The Inspiration Comes Full Circle

This June – 10 years after I spotted that little 5-year-old track star out my kitchen window – I was again reminded of the power of seeing championship performances.

My daughter is now 15. My little track star of years past is still working hard towards hearing the roar of the crowd . . .

In her first year of high school track, her 4X100 relay team qualified for the New England Championships. At this big meet, surrounded by the fastest kids in New England, they ran a good race. But came nowhere near placing – ranked 52.

When she came home after the meet, she stood there in the kitchen – the same one where I’d spotted her running laps around the house 9 years ago . . .

Casually, she flipped through the New England Championship program as she talked with her dad about how hard she was planning to work this summer on her running.

And then she spotted something in the program that made her catch her breath . . .

Something that put her hard work in a larger framework and inspired her to work even harder . . .

In the program from the track meet, for each event they listed the high
school track record holder and her time.

And for the 200 meters race, one of my daughter’s events, the fastest woman in the world, Olympic gold medallist, Allyson Felix was listed as the record holder.

“Allyson Felix has the record??!!” she asked, trying to sort it all out, trying to figure out why an Olympic medalist would be listed in a high school track meet.

All of a sudden it came home to her. Years ago, this Olympic champion she’d watched leaving competitors in the dust on TV . . . this track star who seemed so distant from her . . .

Was once a high school track athlete just like her.

So go watch some TV while the Olympics are on . . .

Watch to inspire you and your kids to move . . .

Sit together as a family and watch these hardworking champions as they put themselves to the test.

Cheer for them. Talk with your children about their stories and the discipline it’s taken, the focus look these athletes have. Let them hear your admiration.

Be inspired together . . .

And then take that championship spirit outside and run with it!

my pic YHHB Why We Watch The Olympics – Kids Need Inspiration To AchieveAbout Sarah Clachar And Fit Family Together

Ever since their first child was in the belly, she and her husband, C, have been making fitness an integral part of their family life. Their commitment to family fitness has kept them healthy, yielded two vibrant kids and produced incredibly strong family bonds. Today Sarah and C offer tips, strategies and inspiration to families looking to do the same. In The Healthy Home Biz System, Sarah helps home business owners like herself become more productive and successful through healthy living strategies tailored just for home business owners. If you’re eager to get started with family fitness, sign up for our FREE e-course on creating a family fitness plan, The Fit Family Together 7-Day Family Fitness challenge.

  • Heather

    My oldest (4) loves the olympics this time around.  She especially likes to watch the women’s gymnastics.  And as soon as she sees them flipping through the air, she immediately wants to do it.  It is so fun to see how excited she gets at the prospect of doing some of the things these amazing athletes are doing!  Now if I could get her to stop jumping off the side of the couch attempting these things…that would be slightly helpful :-)

  • Sarah Clachar

     Ah Heather, sounds like you’ve got an aspiring flipper on your hands! And yes, not only does the couch become a spring board but you’ll find you end up becoming the parallel bars. Glad to hear she’s putting that inspiration into action. You might have to just come to peace with the jumping and put a mattress down near the couch like we did for several years. Thank you for sharing!

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