Thursday, August 16, 2012
For Kveller.com, I argued that Olympic athletes like the young women of America's gold-medal winning gymnastics team didn't have to grow up to become maladjusted adults, as some seem to believe:
The myth that elite athletes can’t grow up to become well-rounded, self-actualized adults with good relationships and satisfying careers is quite simply that–a myth. Sure, some former stars fail to find themselves after the spotlight spins elsewhere, fading into drugs, desperate self-destructive behavior, and even suicide. But, so do everyday people who never stepped near a gym mat or swimming pool.
Alternatively, when you spend many hours a day locked inside a tiny TV announcer booth with former Olympic champions month after month, year after year, you get to know them pretty well. And while I can report that Peggy Fleming, Dick Button, and Brian Boitano have their personal quirks, I can also say that they are interesting people who live full lives, which include parenthood, non-sport hobbies (Brian has his own cooking show now!) and professional success in a variety of fields on and off the ice. (So do folks like Mary Lou Retton, who is exactly like you would expect her to be even 20+ years after her own Wheeties box appearance. She bounded up to introduce herself to me at the 1998 Olympics with a big smile and a perky, “Hi! I’m Mary Lou!” I was tempted to reply, “Hi, I’m Alina, and you must think I was in a coma all through 1984.” But, I didn’t. Because that would have been rude. And she was just so damn nice.)
Read the entire thing at: http://www.kveller.com/blog/activities/olympic-athletes-can-grow-up-to-be-normal-people-too/
Meanwhile, over at Red Tricycle, I listed my favorite kiddie gymnastics classes in NYC, along with pictures of my own kids hanging upside, climbing rope walls, and leaping over uneven bars.
Read it, here, but don't draw any conclusions.
As I also explained on Kveller:
So would I encourage any of my three children to give up a “normal” childhood for a “different” one? If that’s what they really wanted, sure. But, because I know exactly how difficult it is to be the parent or guardian of such a child (for the record, I saw nothing wrong with how Aly Raisman’s folks behaved. I’ve gotten nervous for athletes I only know on a casual basis. If I were their mom… oy!), I would have my aspiring stars wait until they were old enough to do the heavy lifting–like transportation, keeping a schedule and, most importantly, sitting around for multiple, dull hours while the kids practice–themselves. And while I can testify that a majority of elite athletes aren’t too overly scarred by their experiences, I can’t say the same about their parents.
Posted by Alina Adams at 5:03 AM