Four Great Things Kids Learn from Watching the Olympics

imgres-2Olympic fever has gripped our house faster than a cold. My kids spent most of their rainy weekend watching any Olympic competition on TV and cheering on almost all of the competitors. (Almost all – the cold war seems alive in well in our house as my kids root against the Russian athletes both due to gay/human rights concerns and the Sochi conditions.)

During this Olympic fever, they’ve learned a few things:

1. They’ve been exposed to other sports. Being California kids, much of the winter sports are pretty exotic. They know skating, hockey, snowboarding and skiing, but luge, ski jumping. and definitely curling are all new. They mimic the movements, wonder why some people would get into these sports, and beg for us to take them to Tahoe so they can partake in the winter action.

2. They see great sportsmanship. I love the way the snowboarders, especially, all support each other, regardless of country. During the men’s slopestyle, a group of different snowboards all jumped on the winner, even though they were from different countries, and some didn’t medal. For the women’s slopestyle, when one athlete fell badly, she was greeted at the finish line by her competitors. This sportsmanship doesn’t apply to all sports. Women’s luge looked a little more cut throat this morning, but the good examples are what I point out to my kids, especially when it highlights the winners and losers being gracious.

3. Dedication. I don’t know how much of this is really sinking in with my kids, about the long hours, days, and years of practice, failure, and pain to get where these athletes are now, but what helps are the TD Ameritrade #onesmallstep 30-second commercials with old home movies and photos. These are the commercials where they’ll show the athlete now, medal podium-ready, then back track in age using home movies of the athlete until they get back to a toddler shot of the kid’s first time on a snowboard, skis, or the future luger on a slide. At first my seven year old didn’t get it, he didn’t understand that this was the same person, but once it clicked, he loved it. It was a great opportunity to remind them that no one starts great. It’s baby steps – sometimes literally – to greatness.

4. The politics of TV ratings. Okay, this may not be great, but it is an example of how broadcast media can control what we see via standard television. My kids are fed up with NBC, and how the main programming begins late. It begins later than my son’s bedtime, and goes beyond all of our bedtimes. We record it, including events shown in the morning, but we’ve yet to have success streaming the live events via NBC’s website. There have been a lot of questions about why NBC chooses to do this, and why the events are shown broken up at night, to string out a competition and not get to the winner until late, instead of showing all of one event at one time, then moving onto the next. I’m happy NBC is showing live events in the morning on it’s secondary channels, as that is an improvement, but my kids are not impressed. This is noteworthy because NBC and other broadcasters need to figure this out if they want to capture the attention of younger generations. The news is live on Twitter, so why wait until 8 p.m. (or later) to see what one already knows?

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