Stop slamming our athletes for their sterling silver service
Last week, when I arrived at my part time job as a swim school teacher, I was greeted with an overwhelming amount of eagerness from the children whom I teach to jump in the pool and start their class.
Usually, it would be my job to encourage them that the water is warm and that it’s not going to be hard today, but this time was different. They needed no motivation at all.
Last night, it was reported that long jump silver medallist Mitchell Watt was slamming the media for their primarily negative coverage of the Olympic Games, saying: “The only people that are not happy are you guys. So you need to wake up.”
By the kids’ sudden enthusiasm to be at their swimming lessons, it would seem that he’s right.
Watt was fed up with Australian journalists’ discouraging attitude and the tedious obsession with gold medals. In particular, the distorted view that you either win gold or give up completely.
But despite the frequently negative spin that the Australian media has put on our Olympic performances, the kids at the pool revealed a more mature and good-sported nature in regards to Australia’s achievements than most of the adults with whom I have spoken.
Seeing their eyes light up when asked if they had been watching the Games was refreshing to say the least, as they told me how much they loved Steph Rice and Christian Sprenger and how they would all for sure become Olympians one day.
The tax debate surrounding Olympic funding is legitimate and controversial, but if Aussie athletes are continuing to inspire young kids with their achievements, regardless of whether you think that they’ve succeeded or not, that in itself is a grand success.
Anything that can get kids moving in a time when so many are constantly glued to their television screens and computer games, especially during an obesity crisis, should be credited far more than it has been. Because if they grow up with the idea that you must be number one or nothing at all, what kind of a message is that sending? How could they possibly be gracious in defeat or learn to be a good sport, when the media labels an athlete as a hero or “just another silver medallist”?
It’s a relief to see that they are reacting to the Olympics actively, not submitting to the negative commentary that they hear, but being inspired by Australia’s achievements.
So let’s stop asking what’s wrong with our athletes, and leading off an interview with “You must be so disappointed,” and take a look at the way that so many kids are responding to Australia’s accomplishments in London. I’ve never seen so much effort put in to swimming lessons than I have in the past week – and the kids will not shut up about the Olympics.
If that’s not enough for you, then try to explain our apparent “failures” to a very revealing table, which discloses that Australia is the fourth largest country to be punching above their weight – with 10 per cent of our athletes having won a medal already (Behind China – 19%, USA – 16% and Romania – 14%).
You may be uninformed enough to think that Australia is a bunch of chokers and losers at these Games and that the only victory is a gold medal, but Watt’s candid words are a reflection of the effects that harsh media comments may have on athletes. And with that in mind, let’s remember that it’s not over yet, and there are plenty of successes that have come out of these Games already – in and out of the sporting arenas.
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