17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Olympic Roundup

(This was a conversation between my DH and I a couple of weeks before the Beijing Olympics.)

Me: Remember when we were kids and we wanted the USA to beat out the Soviet Union so badly in the Olympics.

DH: Yeah.

Me: I would get so stressed about how many medals the USA was winning and if we would win the medal count.

DH: I know....me too. How stupid was that? (Laughter.....scene out)

(Here was the conversation we had last week.)

Me: So are we winning the medal count against China? (I never bother to check the Internet on anything sports-related....I figure he gets paid to know this stuff...so why take that kind of time and energy when I can just bother him with my questions.)

DH: Well, the USA is ahead in the overall count, but China has way more gold medals.

Me: WHAT!?! How can that be.....it's just because they train their athletes from birth. At least we have a CHOICE to compete. And they try to break all the rules....like lying about the ages of their gymnasts.

DH: Uh-huh

Me: I don't care (obviously still caring....) The US doesn't need to win any stupid medal count to validate how great of country it is....not like China....or Russia.

So now that the Olympics are officially over, do you think it is still possible to enjoy the sports and the athletes....and avoid the commercialism and nationalistic pride (and to some extent cheating) synonymous with the Games? Do you think watching the Games holds more positive or negative lessons for your children?

I could never stop loving the Olympics. I remember watching the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics for hours and hours, wanting to take in every athlete and every sport. I was enraptured with the competition, the shiny uniforms, all of the medals the USA won (mostly because USSR boycotted). I remember, at age 8, putting myself on a "training regimen" so I could be ready to compete in Seoul in 1988. At age 12. Yep, that plan didn't work out too well. But it was fun to dream!

Despite my love of the Games, I do think that they are way too political and although they aspire towards goodwill, I think they mostly teach children that they need to "beat the X" (insert Chinese, Russians or whatever country is on the rise at that moment in time). I do think that line of thinking is pretty dangerous, to be honest. Americans are already egocentric enough.

Last question: What was your favorite moment of these games? My three......watching Michael Phelps compete each night during the first week of the games. I looked forward to his races all day long. I also loved the story of our fellow Mormon mama and of this Mexican American wrestler.


  • I had my busiest work weeks during the Olympics, so I did not get to see as much as I wanted, but still got a decent fill.

    I did not feel the political tug that you wrote about, but Bob Costas makes it all a bit flowery and what we call in my house: musical theatre-ey.

    For me these summer Olympics were a discovery. I did not remember most of the events that are included in Summer Olympics, and I wanted to expose my children as they are now at an interested age, so I saw it through their eyes.

    They were totally into swimming of any kind and the rings in Gymnastics. They decided they wanted to win gold medals in swimming. I always love when something inspires my children.

    My favorite part by far was learning about The Boy who marched with Yao Ming in the opening ceremonies. I cried when I saw his little battle wound scar and heard about his rescue efforts in the earthquake. The entire Opening Ceremonies was thrilling.
    posted by Blogger Kage at 8/24/2008 08:17:00 PM  

  • We love the olympics and now have a tivo about ready to explode with all the recorded games. On the other end of the spectrum, our neighbors have boycotted it all this year because it's in China. I understand their feeling, but I just love the games too much.

    We mostly joked about the politics of it all in our house. Rooting for the "home team" is always fun, but just watching all the amazing athleticism (no matter the country) is so enjoyable.

    I think my kids didn't really "get" the country competition part of it. They just came away wanting to practice balance beam and make up pretend swimming dances wearing sparkly outfits.

    My favorite moments were the swimming (Dara Torres and Phelps) Good stuff. And as "over the top" the sport of Synchronized Swimming is, if you missed Russia's perfect 10 team routine, you must try to find it on youtube. The things those girls can do in the water is incredible.

    Oh, and I was in complete awe of the opening ceremonies. Then I read this and felt kind of icky.
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 8/24/2008 09:35:00 PM  

  • We had a quite a different Olympic experience because we are living in England. It was really interesting to see the British point of view on all of the events. And since we are abroad, we didn't get into the medal race at all-it was much more about the sports and the athletes than which country had more medals.

    So my three favorites? I loved the BBCs commentating on the 4x100 relay with MIchael PHelps. They said that the AMericans were so far out of it and when they saw Laesic coming from behind, they were going crazy for the AMericans-it was incredible! And so nice to see another country cheering for the USA.

    Second, I loved watching Rebecca Addlington win the gold while watching on a huge screen TV in Trafalgar square. The roar that went up was deafening!

    Third, I was amazed by the Jamaican runner Bolt. I was amazed that a runner could be so incredibly dominant. He earned all of his ego!

    If only we would still be here in 2012-that would have be something!
    posted by Blogger Ryann at 8/25/2008 05:53:00 AM  

  • carrie, that article! wow...not surprised.....those darn unions and human rights here in the west.

    Americans would have just quit, so you gotta give the Chinese props for their work ethic right?
    posted by Blogger Kage at 8/25/2008 06:23:00 AM  

  • Yeah...every time Bob Costas talked about the hundreds of thousands Chinese Olympic "volunteers" I had to cringe....

    Kage: I agree, the best part of the Olympics is the dreaming it inspires
    to do something really difficult.

    Carrie: I can't believe I already forgot about Dara Torres. I LOVE her! I loved how competitive she was while still being genuine and friendly out of the water. I love how she has a kid. And I love her lean, muscular physique. Sorry, I just can't get into the synchronized swimming though.

    Ryann, That is really cool the British were rooting for us in the relay....gives me hope that not all foreigners hate us! What a unique perspective on the Games...thanks for sharing!
    posted by Blogger Jen at 8/25/2008 06:37:00 AM  

  • First, what I disliked most - too much beach volleyball. I don't think it is a sport, its something you do on vacation. And why do the women wear bikinis but the men don't wear speedos? It can't feel good sliding into hot or wet sand wearing little more than your underwear. OK - nuff of my rant. I love competition - any kind. I think it brings out the best in people - meaning it motivates people to accomplish beyond what seems possible. But it takes work and sacrifice. That's why my favorite was the Opening Ceremonies. Generally, they are kind of "out there" and abstract which I don't like, but the precision and beauty of what China put on was AMAZING. I read the article that Carrie linked...and I'm not surprised by the sacrifices that the people made..and I'm not deterred in my vote that the opening ceremonies were the best part of the Olympics. Actually, it makes it all that more impressive to me. Many if not all gold medal athletes have suffered injuries in their pursuit of gold. Many have endured the inhumane push of relentless coaches and parents. They have given up the traditional joys of youth, friends, parties, families so they could become the BEST. Is it worth it? I think they would say yes. The people of China that performed weren't going to receive a medal- yet they were willing to make those sacrifices for the sake of participating in this once-in-a-lifetime event and give the world an unbelievable visual and emotional experience. I think the last line of the article says it all. "When we performed that night, all that I could feel in my heart was joy. Pure joy." The problem with too many people is their unwillingness to pay the price of joy. So they gripe through life because everything is "too hard". If you want to experience joy - stay up all night making a prom dress for your daughter; train for and run a marathon; teach seminary for a year or two; carry a child in your belly for nine months, throwing up every day; do something that any union would claim to be a violation of your civil rights. I doubt you could find one of those volunteers that performed that night that would not say it was worth every sacrifice. Now that was a rant - from the bottom of my heart.
    posted by Anonymous kathi at 8/25/2008 08:03:00 AM  

  • Is this Kathi my sister? Nice rant.

    I am all for hard work and sacrifice. Even really hard work and tremendous sacrifice. But adult diapers? Barely any food? 51 hour rehearsals? There has to be a limit to the sacrifices one is forced to make. And in China's case, if they ask it, I'm not sure if you actually have the choice to say yes or no. It's back to Jen's questioning of all the "volunteers".

    "U.S. labor laws might be creating a nation full of slackers which isn't good. But going to the other extreme isn't good either.

    Yes to hard work, sacrifice and beautifully done performances. No to forced labor, starvation, and concentration camps for Olympic performers so I can ooh and aah and the complete perfection the Chinese can accomplish. (not saying I have proof this happened, but I do wonder after reading the article. No doubt China controlled what information the press got regarding the conditions at the rehearsals).
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 8/25/2008 09:32:00 AM  

  • Yes, this is your sister. I don't think any of the "volunteers" were forced to make the sacrifices. If they didn't want to do it, all they had to do was mess up and they would have been replaced by a new "volunteer" that was willing to pay the price. Maybe their choice was limited - put up with these horrendous conditions and participate or go back to your menial day laborer, low paying job. But there was a choice. I'm sure the conditions were tough, especially compared to Western standards, and they may have been worse than was reported in the article. But, I also think there may be a bit of Western justification going on. The only way a show like that can be produced is by abusing the little man and making him endure inhumane conditions. Remember the statement of the volunteer - "PURE JOY!!" We can say it is wrong to "ooh and aah and the complete perfection the Chinese can accomplish" when it is a product of perceived human rights violations - but what if they did it willingly? What if they were real volunteers? I saw smiles on the faces of those performers. Concentration first - then smiles. I applaud them for every drop of sweat that fell from their faces, for every growl of their stomach, for every diaper that they were willing to wear and soil so they could perform to perfection. I'm not saying that the leadership of China are examples to follow, but lets not minimize or discount the the level of voluntary sacrifice that went in to making the opening ceremonies one that will most likely never be matched.
    posted by Anonymous kathi at 8/25/2008 12:28:00 PM  

  • I was one of those who avoided the olympics because it was held in China. THIS video might be surprising.
    I cannot support a country who put on a completely fake face for the world. It's pretty sad that no one in the world is standing up for the abused people of China.
    Dispicable even.

    I LOVE the olympics, and it is awfully ironic to have such a wonderful world celebration of althleticism and unity happen in a completely messed up country.
    posted by Blogger Rachel H at 8/25/2008 04:18:00 PM  

  • More information can be found HERE
    posted by Blogger Rachel H at 8/25/2008 04:22:00 PM  

  • tftcarrie, yeah I mentioned your article to DH and he was saying the performers might have been threatened with their life and stuff....yipers.
    posted by Blogger Kage at 8/25/2008 06:42:00 PM  

  • Rachel H:

    It's a hard call...and I definitely respect your choice to boycott. Personally, I believe that the former China...which was closed off and completely isolated from the world...was a much worse place to live. I think that their new economy and openness to the world is helping improve the lives of their citizens...however slowly....so it is better to support their imperfect attempts (such as the Olympics).

    But like I said...it's really hard to know what is the right thing to do in these situations. And you are so correct, their record of human rights abuses is just horrendous.
    posted by Blogger Jen at 8/25/2008 07:13:00 PM  

  • I live in New Zealand so medals are few and far between for us (though we had the best total so far). I loved the coverage here, they showed so many sports that I didn't even know existed in the Olympics.
    My favourite bit had to be the Australian 10m diver who took the gold medal from a Chinese diver on his very last dive. That was awesome!
    posted by Blogger Monique at 8/26/2008 03:50:00 PM  

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