PARENTING AT THE CRYING OLYMPICS
There’s something I’m not getting at the Crying Olympics in London. Yes, that’s what they’ve been re-named as we watch athlete after athlete breaking down when they win, oh shame oh no, an apparently meaningless Silver Medal or even worse aren’t even placed.
What kind of perspective, what kind of dignity are we teaching these young competitors? Are they receiving so many positive, feel-good talks that no-one tells them there’s a chance they might lose?
The other new phenomenon is the ‘celebrity parent’ interview. After every event Mum and Dad take centre-stage to comment on their children, of course always concluding with “I just want them to be happy.”
Do they? Of course they do, but has the quest for true happiness been confused as parents are drawn into the intense build-up of training and supporting elite athletes? Have the parents themselves lost perspective of what happiness means?
The worst example is Chinese diver Wu Minxia, a three-times gold medalist, who has only just found out during the London Games that both her grandparents died more than a year ago. Her parents didn’t tell her because they didn’t want to disrupt her training. Father, Wu Yuming, is believed to have told the Shanghai Morning Post, “We accepted a long time ago that she doesn’t belong entirely to us. I don’t even dare to think about things like enjoying family happiness.”
The parents of shamed Australian Olympic rower Josh Booth have visited the shops he vandalised to apologise to the owners. Why? Their son is 21, he’s been an adult for 3 years and should be capable of taking full responsibility for this tantrum on his own. Some commentators have even tried to excuse Booth, stating that it’s understandable because these guys have sacrificed drinking for a long time to be in peak performance mode and are understandably devastated when results don’t go their way. Give me a break. This is unacceptable behaviour fair and square.
We’ve watched Silver Medallist Emily Seebohm burst into tears saying she has let her parents down, seen Korean fencer Shin Lam inconsolable, badminton teams cheating, our own James Magnussen discovering he is a fallible human being rather than a missile.
The only crying any of us should be doing over these Olympics are tears of joy that for the first time Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Brunei have sent female athletes to compete. Now that is a victory for all women to rejoice in