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Families Get Olympic Fever

What a fascinating opportunity we have going on right now. The Olympics come just every few years, and they are in full force right now. Being the non-athletic musical person that I am, I’m in awe of the physiques and obvious skills these athletes have honed. The dedication and perseverance is worth recognizing.

In lieu of some fairly questionable role models in the world, I’d say the Olympians are a pretty decent lot to emulate. Granted, the Olympics has had its share of bad sports (Tonya Harding) and tragedy (Israeli athletes in 1972), but overall this is some of the best TV out there for families. What always astounds me about Olympic athletes is how their entire family adjusts to the lifestyle. Elite athletes don’t live like you and me.

They have hours of physical training, school, and usually massive amounts of travel and cost added to their lives. I wonder how families can even stay together and stay sane with all the intensity. Think about how off-balance this really is. Schedules, education, and jobs are all worked around the athlete’s needs. I would think it might be tough to be the sibling of an elite athlete. What happens when your senior prom night is on the same weekend as a big competition out of town for your sibling? As with most things, I would bet that some families take this in stride better than others. You really have to be on the ball as a parent to watch out for everyone’s needs in this situation.

But then when you see the families at the Olympics, the emotions are tough to hide. Parents leaping in the air, spouses with tears running down their cheeks, children waving to their Olympic parents, siblings cheering encouragement and beaming with pride.

Take a look at a few family snapshots I’ve seen from this Olympics:

  • One story that really touched me was the first Canadian gold medalist, a men’s mogul competitor who has a brother with cerebral palsy. The skier took inspiration from his brother when he was feeling defeated or discouraged about his sport.
  • Apolo Ohno is an only child to a single father and almost succumbed to the usual teenage pressures of kids with disrupted families. But because of his fantastically supportive father, Apolo turned his life around and has become the highest example of perseverance and dedication to his sport.
  • The commercial about Dan Jensen and his daughter Jane (named after his sister who died of cancer) always gets me. His look of defeat as he sat on the ice in the midst of mourning is hard to swallow. His pride and obvious love for his sister is absolutely evident as he skates his victory lap with his daughter.

So if your kid is excited to watch the Olympics, go for it. Watch it with them and make sure they hear the stories about how their families work together to make everything happen. Be sure they know how much character these athletes have to be able to do such great things. It’s not all about being strong and fast, it’s about intangible qualities that we all need like perseverance, patience, and endurance.

Go For The Gold, FMH readers!

Creative Commons License photo credit: Secret Pilgrim

Families Get Olympic Fever

Erika Krull, MS, LMHP

Erika Krull, MS, LMHP is a practicing licensed mental health counselor in Nebraska.

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APA Reference
Krull, E. (2010). Families Get Olympic Fever. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 2, 2020, from


Last updated: 17 Feb 2010
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