Olympics are Over, but the Lessons Are Just Beginning
Dr. Tara Cousineau is a clinical psychologist, mother, and Aunt. She is founder of BodiMojo.com for teenagers, a health engagement platform for teens leveraging web and mobile technologies to inspire healthy living. The use of BodiMojo.com by teen girls has shown to have a significant effect on improving girls’ attitudes about their own body image. Tara also blogs at BodiMojo.com/blog and TeensInBalance.com.
With the conclusion of the Olympics 2012, there’s nothing like this grand opportunity to share some takeaway lessons with your nieces and nephews. It has truly been nothing short of a thrill to watch these super athletes win a swim or track event by 1/100 of second or the share the disappointment of watching a world class gymnast losing a spot on the medal podium by 1/10 of a point. Lessons to be learned? Plenty.
1) Patriotic Fervor. First, if you are anything like me, you’ll have given fair warning to the kids that you can’t help but shout, cheer, and cry for your country’s contenders.
Lesson: Showing emotion is A-OK even if they think you’re weird.
2) Since the Olympics is all about winning, it’s hard to tout the adage, “Winning isn’t everything,” even if that is what you truly believe. Depending on where some athletes come from, Gold is everything and could be life changing for them and their families.
Lesson: The world is complicated, and we can’t take opportunities for granted.
3) Winning isn’t everything. All the Olympic athletes have devoted many years to their sport. What got them to the Games comes down to a few core ingredients: talent, practice, commitment, grit, and a belief in oneself.
Lesson: If you love a sport (or hobby), stick with it.
4) Summertime Olympians tend to show a lot of skin that one doesn’t see in the Winter Games. Seeing these athletes’ bodies in high definition may offer lesson in anatomy. More importantly, seeing the fitness level of athletes is chance to talk about basic physical activity (60 minutes a day!), strength training, flexibility, and nutrition.
Lesson: Fit is cool. Fit is achievable.
5) Genetics Matter. The Olympics offer a unique window into physical attributes. Athletes who gravitate to certain sports often do so because their body type and shape are an advantage in the sport and a factor in their natural talent. Take a few examples: The swimming phenomenon, Michael Phelps; the recent gymnastics sensation, Gabby Douglas; or the women’s weightlifter, Sarah Robler.
Lesson: Everybody is different.
6) “Boditude.” The Games also afford a chance to discuss body image. Most of the athletes represent an extremely small cohort of super fit human beings, falling outside of any norm. These athletes condition their bodies day in and day out – it’s a full time job for each of them. The rest of us will do well to stay in shape by regular exercise, a healthy diet, and embracing an attitude of acceptance regarding our natural body shape and size.
Lesson: Beauty is within.
7) The Golden Rule. It’s particularly heartwarming to see competitors congratulate each other with respect. It’s a bummer when they snub each other.
Lesson: Always take the high road (especially on camera).
8) Media Manipulation. What a great chance to go back and critically review the commercials and sponsors of the Olympics. (Maybe there is a lesson in irony too.) When the major sponsors include Coke and McDonalds, it’s a great chance to question what the role brands play and how they can influence viewers – positively and negatively.
Lesson: Everyone is selling something.
9) Popularity Contests. If you enjoy a sport on the more obscure side – take skeet shooting or archery for example – you’ll have been hard pressed to find the TV channel and a time to watch the event. (If you did, what a great bonding opportunity for you and your nephew or niece.) Sports that get the most viewers get the most airtime and advertisers.
Lesson: Life is unfair.
10) Cultivate Passion. Many of these Olympians have childhood stories that tug at the heartstrings, and the film editors do a great job of making viewers root for them. That’s OK by me. Ultimately, the Olympics offer an opportunity to see that sports have a way of transcending adversity and transforming hardship into hope.
Lesson: Never give up.
Published: August 13, 2012