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Olympic Lessons Stretch Way Beyond the Field for Kids

Inspired to race.

This is why I love the Olympics.

This moment.

We’re watching the opening ceremonies, probably like the rest of the TV viewing world, and here comes what I think is always both the most exciting and the most mind-numbingly boring part: The athletes parade. It’s exciting for one or two countries and then you remember, “Oh yeah. This goes on forever.”

My daughter, 6, has a different take.

“Are those?” she says, losing the words. She has this weird look in her eye.

“All those girls,” she continues, “Are they all … athletes?”

She just keeps staring at them all, her eyes open and her mouth open, as if to say, “Wow!”

At first I think, Jesus, dad, don’t you ever expose her to women in sports?! How can she not know that women, too, play sports.

But I don’t think that’s what was behind this.

We do watch women in sports, practically every time we can find them on TV. Soccer, softball, basketball, lacrosse — anything she wants. The women’s World Cup was an event in our house. We’ve all agreed to go to the college softball world series to see it live.

But, honestly, the kid doesn’t have many girl friends that play sports, not in her personal friend circle, and not in her small school, where she was one of two girls on a baseball team.

So this parade. I can only imagine what it must be like to see so many women, an endless host of them, getting ready to compete, getting ready to play. They’re wearing regular clothes, just like her, but deep down, they are incredible athletes. I still can’t explain the look I see her in eyes. It’s as if she found role models, I don’t know. She is just in awe. She is … inspired.

This is why I love the Olympics.

The drama, the sportsmanship, the raw athleticism and talent and hard work all narrowed down to a singular moment. That’s awesome. But so are moments like these when kids around the world can realize that there are people out there just like them, people who like that crazy thing they like and and do it into adulthood. Over the next few days, we’ll watch everything from archery to badminton to fencing and equestrian and cycling. It’s a veritable Olympicspalooze in this house. But I keep coming back to that look, that sense of amazement sketched across her face.

“This,” she says, “Is so cool.”

Indeed.

Mike Adamick writes at Cry It Out!

Previously

Best Food for Kids at Disneyland
Kids and Trees: Summer’s Call of the Wild

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