Top 5 Ways to Teach Your Kids Olympic Values
- Friday, January 31, 2014
As many of the world’s top athletes in winter sports gather in Sochi, Russia for the 2014 Olympics in February, their incredible skills will capture the attention of people worldwide – including many children and teens, who love to watch young athletes in action. But what’s even more compelling than the fastest bobsled race, highest ski jump, or most elegant figure skating program is the Olympic spirit that runs through the athletes’ stories.
Olympians draw their inspiration from a set of core values that prepare them to do their best as they compete, and to respond gracefully to whatever happens as a result of their best efforts. Each of those Olympic values is consistent with the timeless wisdom of the Bible. So you can help your kids grow in their faith by teaching them Olympic values as you watch and discuss this winter’s Olympics together. Here’s how:
1. Help them develop a strong work ethic. Olympians are known for their hard work – practicing their sport over and over again to develop their skills to the highest level possible. Steven Holcomb, leader of the American bobsled team in Sochi, has credited the value of hard work in helping him overcome serious obstacles (a degenerative eye disease and depression) to succeed in his sport. Holcomb has said that Olympians “have to make a lot of sacrifices” in order to focus on working hard, but that doing so is worthwhile for those who love what they do. “You have to love what you are doing and when you do you put your heart and soul into it and that takes it to the next level,” he said in a Reuters interview. As you talk with your kids about the value of hard work, you can point out that Proverbs 14:23 says: “All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.” while Philippians 4:13 declares: “I can do all things through him who gives me strength.”
2. Encourage them to approach both success and failure gracefully. Whether they win or lose, Olympians often respond with graceful attitudes that inspire others to consider what matters most: not the results of a single event, but the character of the person competing in it. U.S. figure skater Ashley Wagner exemplified a graceful response to success when she made the Olympic team for Sochi despite her poor performance in the national championships. Officials choosing who to place on the American team decided to give a spot to Wagner based on her reputation as a top skater at most events, rather than let her mistakes at the championships keep her out of the Olympics. Wagner responded to her successful bid for the team with humility and gratitude, bringing to mind James 4:10, which says: “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.”
American skeleton racer Noelle Pikus-Pace, who will also compete in Sochi, exemplified a graceful response to failure in the decisions she made after heartbreaking previous experiences: She missed the 2006 Olympics after a runaway sled hit and injured her during training, and she missed the medal platform at the 2010 Olympics by just one-tenth of a second in her sledding time. After retiring from the sport and having children, Pikus-Pace says she sensed a call to return to skeleton racing and decided that she wouldn’t let regrets about her previous Olympic failures hold her back. “We have a choice [when facing failure],” she said in an interview with Reuters. “We can look back and be upset or choose to learn from it, see what we can take out of it and just choose to be stronger and better people.” You can point out to your kids that God stands ready to help them learn from their failures and empower them to move forward. The apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 12:9 that God “said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
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