The 2012 Olympic Games are being held in London. New memories will be made. Records will fall and heroes will emerge. The long storied history of the Olympics will add a new chapter to its enduring legend. This is the perfect time to introduce your family to the pure joy and passion of sports and competition. Games are not held just for paychecks, but for something much larger and much more important. Are you up to the challenge of building family relationships by participating along with the intended spirit of the Games? Here are ten ideas for your family to enjoy the Games as a team.
Sports are meant to be experienced not only by viewing, but by participation. Set up a series of age appropriate games for your family to compete in. Choices might be a family game of horse, a relay race, sack race, long distance jump or various feats of strength. All up to the imagination of your family and maybe you will invent your own games! Reward all at the conclusion with ice cream and lots of laughter.
Focus on Certain Sports and Athletes
The Olympic Games go on for a lengthy time and there are hundreds of events. It is not possible to catch them all. Your family experience will be much more meaningful by picking out certain sports and athletes you wish to follow all the way to victory and the medal presentations. In the age of the DVR, this is much easier to accomplish now.
Research Historical Significance
Convincing your children that researching history is fun might be an Olympic-size challenge itself. Yet, there are so many amazing stories to be found in looking back. Doing so will give you all a new perspective at what you are currently witnessing. The 1936 Berlin Games in Nazi Germany. The intense politics and civil rights movements of the 1960’s games. Stories of Czars, Kings and Queens. Dive into history and gain new appreciation for what is truly a miracle, each time the world manages to come together in the name of harmony for at least few weeks in time.
Consider Attending One Olympics in Your Lifetime
Obviously, actually attending the Games isn’t possible for most families. But what if you saved and saved and waited for a time down the road when your entire family could go? Can you imagine the feeling of being there to witness a long-standing Olympic record shattered? To hear the anthem of your nation played as your athlete has the gold placed around his or her neck? Pretty cool stuff. Another option is to attend Olympic Trials near you to get a “sneak peek” at the next rising star.
Local Olympic Heroes
An interesting aspect of most Olympic athletes is that the games are the final dramatic conclusion to years of hard work and sweat. Only a select few move into professional status. Most of the sports do not even have a professional class. So after their time in the sun, they move back into normal life and live all around us. In every city there can be found former Olympic athletes with loads of stories and character. For instance, gold medal gymnast Kerri Strug is now an elementary school teacher. Attempt to seek out former athletes nearby, and have your family hear firsthand what it’s like at that one moment of truth on the grandest stage in the world. Someone in your very church or neighborhood might have been an Olympic hero!
Track the Medals Standings
During the entirety of the Games, the overall medal count for each country determines its ranking in the Olympic standings. Medals are awarded in gold, silver and bronze, which are also calculated and kept for each nation participating. Using a whiteboard, update daily the medal count and place in the standings for you own country. Your children will enjoy researching the Internet each morning to get the latest stats. This also makes watching lesser known events more interesting by pulling for your country to medal.
To mature in life, it is important to be willing to try new things. The Olympics are a great way to teach this lesson to your children. After watching the games, challenge each family member, including Mom and Dad, to make an attempt to learn a new sport they saw during the games. Water polo, ping pong, team handball or even sailing are some possibilities that could enrich the lives of your family. Get out there and get motivated!
Emphasize Teamwork and Individual Work Ethic
More so than any other event, the Olympics give parents a platform to visually teach the vital importance of teamwork. On the same scale, great individual sacrifice and work ethic is also on display for the whole world to see. Do not let the opportunity pass you by to make the Olympic Games a wonderful teaching moment as a parent. Children thrive on visual aids, and you certainly will have that to work with.
Everything is an excuse for a party, and the Olympics are no exception. Why not invite the neighbors and friends over for viewing parties? Perhaps to watch the USA basketball team as they go for the gold. Or maybe watch this year’s great athlete go for his 8th gold medal. Who knows what will be the big moment this year, but make a big event out of it. Then get out there with the neighbors and have your own games.
Make an Olympic Pledge
The rings of the Olympic logo represent passion, faith, victory, work ethic and sportsmanship. Important qualities of a successful life to be certain. During the closing ceremonies, ask each family member if they wish to pledge to live up to those qualities and to carry them with them in life from that point forward. We will all stumble and fall at times, but a pledge like that made with family can’t possibly hurt when times get tough. Imagine your son years from now at a tough moment in his life, and in his mind he recites those five qualities to push forward out of the darkness.
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