Collin was just seven months old when the 2010 Winter Games were held in Vancouver. Now, at the age of three, I feel obligated to explain the Olympics to him. So, I let him take a long nap on Friday so he could stay up to watch the opening ceremonies with me. (Relax – it’s only every two years!)
I’ve only ever played on one sports team in my life (a disastrous tale for another time) and visited two countries other than my own (though I hope to change that). But, you don’t need to be an athlete or a globetrotter to appreciate what the Olympics symbolize.
In explaining the meaning of these international games to Collin, I discovered some truth for myself.
Truth 3: Good sportsmanship takes effort
The Olympics have also been a great opportunity to teach Collin about the importance of eating right and exercising. I point out the muscular physiques of the Olympic athletes and tell Collin that he can grow up big and strong like them.
Fortunately, he loves all fruits (especially bananas) and vegetables (except lettuce). Unfortunately, like most 3-year-olds, he has a thing for macaroni and cheese and was recently introduced to candy. Showing him positive, athletic role models may help him to choose healthier foods as he grows.
Exercising has never been my favorite activity, but I know that if I want my children to be physically fit, they have to see me incorporate regular work-outs into my life. Like Phelps, I’ve found the pool to be a great place to leave my troubles behind. After my cardio and strength training, I unwind by splashing around with Collin, and soon enough, Frank.
Toddlers get plenty of exercise playing actively during the day. Yesterday when I picked Collin up from my parents, my dad said that he had been running around the basement chasing a ball for almost an hour.
As children get older, and school dominates their lives, their physical fitness needs change. Team sports are the route many parents take to ensure their kids stay active, but playing together as a family at home, outside, at a park or at the gym is a good way for families to reinforce fun fitness.
Our bodies are a gift from God. Maintaining our health is an obligation we have to Him. We certainly don’t need to be Olympians to take care of our bodies, but we can look to many (though not all) of them as positive role models for taking care of our bodies in the right way.
My husband is the athlete in our household. If our boys take after him, I’ll be delighted to cheer on their teams. A little competition is a good thing, but it’s more important that Collin and Frank learn to be “good sports.”
Glory and defeat should be shared amongst teammates. We shouldn’t celebrate the ball-hog or chastise the kid who missed the big play. We should shake hands with our opponents the same kind way after beating them or being beaten by them. We should apply the ideals of 1 Corinthians to our love for the game and for our teammates.
If Collin and Frank are the clumsy, artistic type like me, we will still ensure they have some physical routine and plenty of opportunities to learn the value of being a team member.
Being a part of a goal-oriented group teaches kids the value of cooperation, communication, and overcoming obstacles together. Collin used to like a show called “Wonderpets” about three classroom pets who work together to save animals around the world. They sang a little song which went as follows:
“What’s gonna work?”
Now, Collin sings the song whenever we work together to solve a problem. He may have even belted it out during the 200 meter relay …
Anyone who knows me will tell you that following the rules is not my greatest strength. I think it’s partially because I never chose to play sports, where the importance of obedience is often learned.
In sports, there are immediate consequences if a rule is broken during the game. More often than not, disobedience impacts the entire team. Foul shots in basketball can help your opponent earn points. Losing yards in a football game means negative progress for the team. If a player or a coach is carded or ejected, everyone else must adjust accordingly.
Sports rules also have many positive aspects. Rules are what make games worth playing. If every player is operating under the same parameters, anyone can win. Cheating happens, but seldom goes unpunished.
God’s rules for us are what make life worth living. If we don’t follow His rules, we are punished. If we obey his Commandments and teachings, we always win.