Gymnastics, swimming, volleyball, archery, fencing, tennis, water polo, track and field, the list goes on and on — those are the sports being contested during the next couple of weeks at the games of games, the Olympics.
From my earliest memories I can remember sitting in my living room watching the greatest athletes in the world compete in all types of sports every four years, in the winter and then in the summer. Then they split the years up, holding summer competitions one year, then two years later winter sports, then two years later summer again.
This year, it is the summer sports that have my attention. And I love watching all of the sports. I’m not so certain that I have just one favorite, because they are all so exciting, but I do know that I love gymnastics, swimming and volleyball, whether it’s on the hard court or the sand, the most.
Now my dad used to say that gymnastics and figure skating weren’t really sports, because the winning decision was based on artistic scores and points that judges awarded, rather than points earned by defeating an opponent either in speed or quick reflexes. And those two sports tend to have the most controversy in whether a team or athlete should have won or not, when controversy does arise.
Personally, I think any activity in which people are competitive could be considered a sport. I mean, doesn’t ESPN show World Poker tournaments and billiards competitions?
As I watch the sports, I run around in the back of my head trying to figure out just which sport Little Man is going to be going to the Olympics in 16 to 20 years to compete in. Will it be men’s gymnastics, or rowing, or swimming? The list is endless in the activities in which he could compete.
But then, I guess it will be up to him at some point as to what he decides to do with his life, whether it’s play sports, be the top of his class academically, be an expert in outdoor activities like rock climbing or mowing grass. I just have to foster in him from a young age to go all out for anything he wants to do.
Growing up, I did gymnastics for a few years as a kid. I was actually pretty good at the balance beam and the uneven bars, but when it came to doing flips on the mat and off the vault, I never really got past the cartwheel and round-up because I was afraid of falling and getting hurt.
Fear is something these athletes must overcome early on, something I couldn’t seem to get past. But I hope most kids aren’t like me, and I hope all parents encourage their kids to not be afraid and to strive for success in whatever they do.
This way, the next generation of Olympians, and Nobel Prize winners, and extreme sports competitors, and government leaders, will be ready to take over as the ones now get ready to move on to another phase in their lives.
Wendy Byerly Wood is the associate editor of The Mount Airy News. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 719-1923.