As per the usual, I have been obsessively watching the Olympics the last week and a half. I especially love the sports that aren’t normally televised — the rowing, the weight-lifting, the Greco-Roman wrestling, even the table tennis. I don’t understand half the rules to these games, but I get all excited when someone does something amazing.
I am not even going to talk about Michael Phelps. That man is so amazing, yet so humble, that I think I’m a tad bit in love with him. I know I am not alone; most women in this country either want to be with him or adopt him as their son or grandson. And the fact that he made some incredible history doesn’t hurt.
And Dana Torres! How can you not be thrilled by the wonderfulness that is Dana Torres?? A 41-year-old woman beats out a sixteen-year-old kid to win silver. It just goes to prove that you are never too old, that you can achieve your dreams and your goals if you have the drive and determination to do so.
I also hope it might encourage older athletes to continue competing as well. I get tired of seeing kids out there that aren’t even old enough to vote. Imagine the intense pressure on them to perform at such a high level, yet they cannot vote or drink or even make decisions without a parent’s signature.
Of course, I have been tracking the gymnastics as well. I love how amazingly athletic and strong the men are. I cannot even fathom how powerful the men are to perform such amazing feats on the rings and the pommel horse. Today I watched last night’s coverage of the men’s floor exercises in which the German athlete flung himself across the mat in a tumbling run only to change direction completely at the end. Every time I see that, I gasp in amazement that someone can force his body to perform such feats.
I do believe Alicia Sacramone was robbed somewhat when she placed fourth in the vault, out of the medals, behind the Chinese gymnast who landed on her knees on her second vault. I understand that Cheng Fei did harder vaults, and that her amazing first vault scored well enough to keep her average high enough to win the bronze. But how can you say that a vault in which you land on your knees is good enough to win bronze?
There’s one thing that has been bothering me throughout these Olympics. Johnson & Johnson has been playing commercials about athletes achieving their goals, but there’s also a focus on the athlete’s family, since Johnson & Johnson is apparently a company that cares about family. The thing is, it’s always a female athlete. The commercial I saw today featured a member of the US soccer team, and the athlete talked about how she hopes that her example as a mother and an athlete will encourage her fellow athletes who want to raise a family and continue in their sport.
I’ve got nothing against that, I really don’t. But why don’t we see heart-warming stories of male athletes as fathers? Why do we only focus on what a great mother this female is? Isn’t it just as important to be a father?
The only time I’ve heard of a male athlete’s kid is when there is something seriously wrong with the child, and the father finds inspiration in his child overcoming all odds and then applies it to his own sport. Again, there’s nothing wrong with that — but what about the other men who find inspiration in simply being a father?
The media kept mentioning how Dana Torres went back to swimming after the birth of her child, and it’s because of the child that Dana is even racing now. Are you telling me that there aren’t men who find the same sort of simple inspiration in their children?
I find that we as a society have sort of shoved men aside as fathers. We keep making a big deal of the sacrifices a stay-at-home mother has to make in order to make ends meet for her family, but what about the sacrifices a working husband has to make? I’m sure there are men out there that are working overtime or even two jobs to make ends meet, but that seems sort of expected.
You hear women on the tv proclaiming how proud they are to be mothers. How many men are encouraged to proclaim that they are proud to be fathers? I’m not seeing it.
And you know, I am someone who firmly believes that a kid needs both his parents in his life if that is at all possible. That’s not to put down single parents. Sometimes it’s just not possible to stay married to your kid’s other parent, or maybe you never did get married. It’s hard being a single parent; I get a taste of it every time Kurt goes out to sea for six months or more. And I respect all single parents out there.
But there are folks living the life of a single parent who don’t have to, and I think the kids are paying the price. Here in the military, there are lots of people who choose to become geographic bachelors. Their families stay in one place while the servicemember moves all over the country from command to command. I understand the desire to stay in a familiar place if the servicemember is going to be deployed frequently. What is the point of moving to a new place if your dad/husband is going to be gone the whole time you’re there anyhow?
Me, I would move anyway, mainly because I love moving and seeing new places. I had never really been to the West Coast before I arrived in Washington state in 2003, and I had never set foot in New England before we moved here eleven months ago. I love the challenge of moving someplace new, I love seeing new places, I love meeting new people. So for me, it’s a good thing. But not everyone is so adventurous.
But here, here the servicemembers are all on shore duty. Some are only here for six months to a year, and who wants to move their families for such a short time? But there are plenty of instructors who are here for three years who have left their families behind. The excuse is always that they don’t want to pull their kids out of school, that they don’t want to yank the kids away from their friends.
So I guess friends are now more important than family.
I just don’t get it. Sailors spend so much time away from their families while assigned to a ship; why not enjoy the few years they have Stateside? Why break up the family when you don’t have to? It makes not one whit of sense.
Kids nowadays have enough problems without forcibly splitting up a family when it doesn’t have to be.