Just like the rest of the world, I have been drawn into watching the Olympics. Thanks to Foxtel’s multi channel coverage, I am able to choose a sport (or highlights) at any time of the day. I have found myself sitting on the couch cheering for our Aussie athletes, and willing them to go for gold. However, the more I watch, and the more after-event interviews I see the more compelled I feel to turn the TV off. I am beginning to question how healthy it is to pit people against each other and make them prove their worth by winning a medal. What have these athletes been told about their own value to the world?
I have just watched an interview with Emily Seebohm after she came second in the 100m backstroke. She came second in the world! Second!!! An amazing result but she was disappointed! Whaaaaat???!!!??? Even more unbelieveable is that she cried and stated she had just let her family and her coach down and she was very sorry for that. Emily – you are amazing. You are at the Olympics – that is incredible in itself. You’re obviously compassionate, caring and allow yourself to be vunerable. This makes you a winner in and out of the pool. Shame on Grant Hackett for not saying this to her during this interview. It is not a blood sport after all.
I don’t need to be educated on the psychology of how an athlete gets to compete at the Olympics. I don’t want to disregard the effort and mental stamina required. I can never hope to appreciate the discipline needed to be at the top of your field. However, are these people truly the best role models for society? Where winning is a sign of self worth? I’m not naive. I know the world is full of winners and losers (albeit with different labels) but is it right to glorify this at the cost of all other special traits these athletes bring to the world? Worst still, I’ve seen too many instances these past few days where the media have spent their time focused on reasons for “failure” as opposed to celebrating effort. Perhaps it’s time for a change. I know for me, it’s time to turn the TV off.