Just in time. The Olympic Gods aligned our family summer vacation with the exact timing of the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics. There is no other time in my life that I sit on the couch and watch beach volleyball. My television is usually programmed to watch the NFL, MLB and NHL. But every four years it is exciting to watch sports that I normally don’t find time to watch.
The Olympic Games give me goose bumps. Bob Costas has perfected how to make me cry within thirty seconds. Michael Phelps, Katie Ledecky, Simone Manual and of course Simone Biles all made us proud. From the Opening Ceremonies to the last metal-round, my family and I are cheering on our “Red, White and Blue”.
A few days ago my wife noticed that it was National Bowling Day and Jill really wanted the family to go bowling. Who knew there was such a day! Our youngest son Tate is eight years old, and he is beyond competitive. If you gave him a stick and a ping pong ball he would find a way to create competitive matches and a World Stick-Pong Championship! The kid is obsessed with sports. While we were bowling, Tate didn’t do so well. The kid kept throwing gutter balls while his older sister, Caroline, was knocking down pins. Tate was upset, he started crying and whining, acting like a sore loser – when Caroline put her little brother in his place saying, “Tate, stop acting like Hope Solo and start acting like Missy Franklin!”
And there you have it – watching the Olympics is more than a spectator sport. It is teaching us leadership lessons. It is teaching us the best and the worst of humanity.
Missy Franklin, at seventeen won five Olympic medals – setting two world records four years ago at the London Olympics. She dominated the Games and the world fell in love with her genuine smile and heart. We all witnessed this past week, Missy fell short during the Rio Olympics getting beat in the pool – not even close to winning a metal. But how she handled her defeat made me love this young woman more than her four gold medals, four years earlier. I have never seen anyone accept and handle defeat with more grace, love and humility. Made me proud.
Then there is our goalkeeper for USA’s Woman’s Soccer team that called the Swedes “cowards” and said “the best team did not win today” after a 4-3 penalty shootout defeat. She tweeted “Losing Sucks!” She acted like the ugly American the world loves to hate. Even my eleven-year old daughter, who loves to play soccer, was disappointed the USA Woman’s team didn’t win their fifth Olympic Gold, but more disappointed in Hope Solo’s “sore loser” words of defeat.
We can tell a lot about someone with how they handle success – how they handle winning. But we can tell even more about someone in how they handle defeat. “Be a Missy and not a Hope” my daughter says. Not bad advice from an eleven-year old.