A Lesson from the Olympics

Every time I watch the Olympics, I am impressed by so many great athletes and their incredible accomplishments. But I am also equally impressed by all the parents who sacrificed so much for their children. Even though I always thought that, it didn’t really hit me until my own son began to participate in sports.

This past summer, Gabriel – my oldest – decided to join Cross Country, which meant 5 a.m. runs for five days a week. Since he didn’t have a driver’s license, my husband got up every morning at 4:30 to take him to practice. By the end of the summer, Gabriel was getting better at running. He says now he enjoys running which he didn’t before.

Just this morning, when I saw the report that Ryan Lochte’s parents are facing foreclosure, I thought about my own son and his 6 weeks of participating in Cross Country. It has been well documented that most all Olympic swimmers began swimming at the age of 5 or 6. Thinking back on our 6 weeks, I can just imagine how many hours these parents spent on the road.

But this makes me really think about how much parental sacrifice is required for so much greatness. I think about how many other children with equal talent don’t get to do what Ryan Lockte has done because there is no one to drive them to the pool at 4 a.m. The athletes have to do the work, but some don’t even get the chance!

And that’s not it at all. Kids also need help from countless others. Just yesterday, I saw four teachers who stayed up all night with my son and his friends during an ASB lock-in at the school, so that the students can have a fantastic year filled with exciting activities. The kids – including my own son – will probably get into prestigious universities because they had this experience as leaders at their school. Without all the help from volunteering teachers, who don’t get paid any extra money for their time way from their own families, these children’s chance of becoming successful later in their lives will certain diminish.

I am sure Ryan Lockte will help his parents because it is what any decent human being will do for his parents. After all, he is an Olympic champion! And I sincerely hope his example will serve others in how to graciously share one’s successes with people who have made enormous sacrifices for you to become a success: parents, teachers, and coaches. After all, they have helped us get wherever we are literally – by driving us to a 5 a.m. practice and by being at the practice with you – as well as figuratively.

Of course, I am so very proud of my own son for showing up to practice for 6 weeks straight and all the other fantastic athletes for their amazing accomplishments. But they didn’t do it alone. I hope they act like they truly appreciate it.

Now if only Gabriel gets his driver’s license, so he can drive himself to practice at 5 a.m.!