Running 13, 13.1's in 2013 and the thoughts along the way!

The Olympics one year on: did we ‘Inspire a Generation’?

on July 12, 2013


Well random is in my Blog Title so, anything can be discussed and I am sure for many readers this one came out of no where, but really there is more to this. As mentioned yesterday, I have been asked to join a group of other bloggers and share my thoughts on different topics that the group decides on. Run With An Idea came about when blogger Carrie of Carrie On Running contacted me to see if I was interested in being part of this project. Of course I said yes and was excited to take another step into the “blogging world”. So from here on out, every other Friday I will be sharing my thoughts on whatever topic is on hand. We are taking suggestions, so feel free to suggest! Now back to the discussion at hand…The Olympics

I found this a strange first topic, but there is a piece to this project I left out, many of the contributors are from across the pond. Being from Massachusetts, I watched the Olympics and enjoyed them, but didn’t think much more of them. Honestly, I haven’t thought about the Olympics at all since they extinguished the torch last year, and it got me to thinking how the Olympics affect the country they are held in. Do they stay in peoples memories longer? Its hard for me to say as I was too young for Atlanta and for Salt Lake, I was not at all interested in noticing other peoples motivation. So while I think the Olympics bring extra pride to the host country, it doesn’t last long, particularly on the “next generation”.

A primary role of my work is combating obesity primarily with youth but also with adults. My work involves promoting physical activity, so I can say first hand with those that I work with both young and old have not been inspired by the Olympics one year later. So far, I sound pretty down and out on the Olympics, don’t get me wrong I LOVE watching the Olympics, I think they are exciting and a breath of fresh air to the not always fair and honest sporting world that we watch every day. (I will expect someone to tell me there are plenty of cheaters in the Olympics too, but for my sake, they are a breath of fresh air!)

Back to my thoughts on the next generation. Right now there is so much attention focused on increased awareness of the trends on childhood obesity. Youth need more physical activity, they need healthier food choices, and they need the knowledge to carry out these things. I think at times youth are bombarded with these messages and have become numb to them. The Olympics, while inspirational to many, they also showcase  the best athletes in world: lean, fit, and strong. To youth that may need inspiring…this might actually frustrate them more. Looking at these athletes knowing that it could never be them. Sure, could it be said that these athletes could inspire them to change their habits? Of course, but with nothing more than events being shown on television…youth will not make that connection. Sadly I see too many children every day with very low self esteem particularly those most at risk. So I think one year later, it can be said that the youth here in Massachusetts are still uninspired, and I am guessing alot don’t even remember the Olympics happened a year ago!

Run On-


11 responses to “The Olympics one year on: did we ‘Inspire a Generation’?

  1. Dash says:

    Great post! It’s interesting for me as a Brit to read the thoughts of someone from outside the UK.
    I think we are still quite proud of the Olympics (and the Anniversary Games are about to kick off, so Olympic mania hasn’t died down yet!) because BEFORE the Games we were quite sceptical that we could pull it off. The fact that it was a successful event, and that our athletes did so well, makes us realise that we have something to be proud of.

    However, if I think back to Beijing, I don’t remember this level of pride or enthusiasm. We remembered our winners but that was about it! Partly the time difference between the UK and China meant that we often weren’t watching the Games live, which can make a difference.

    It will be interesting to see the national mood as the Games move on to Rio – will we be struck by Olympic fever in July 2016 or will it just be something different on the TV to fill the gap between football seasons?

    • Thanks! I think it is interesting in many of the posts by the bloggers in the UK that there was that much skepticism, interesting feeling to have on putting on the Olympics, I would never be worried about a country pulling it off. I love the different opinions on this!

      • Mollie says:

        Look for Eddie Izzard’s sketch on how the British ‘tone down’ their aspirations. As an American living in London, it is interesting to see that outlook on life on a daily basis.

  2. Caz says:

    So if the big star athletes are TOO high profile to be a genuine inspiration then who does it fall to? Are kids really inspired by people like me? I’m still slightly overweight but fitter than I’ve ever been and happier because of it but kids are gonna look at me and laugh, where they might look at someone like Usain Bolt and aspire to be more like him?

    I find it so interesting how the Olympics are experienced in other countries. The 2012 Olympics are the first ones I watched any real coverage of – I don’t think I watched ANY of Bejing so it was obviously the homeland aspect which sparked my interest. That said I think I’ll probably be quite into Rio! I’m glad we’ve got you on the team though Shannon – different geographically-driven opinions are EXACTLY what we need 😀

    • Funny you say that about who should kids aspire to, it got me thinking what that answer should be. I think it varies, for me working in a very underprivileged neighborhood, I think it is the local heroes that kids should aspire to. I know someone like you or me, particularly if you work hard to be a healthy weight and live a healthy lifestyle, is just what the next generation needs!

  3. I’m in a similar line of work and a lot of the kids I work with don’t believe they are going to make it out of high school, let alone to the Olympics. You’re absolutely right, we need to find a way of empowering our kids again.

    • Caz says:

      That’s tragic to read, it almost brings me to tears that children can feel so defeated at the point in their lives when they should be thriving and full of ambition.

  4. Mollie says:

    I never thought that fit and healthy athletes would discourage kids from being active. For me, as someone invested in fitness, I found Jessica Ennis’ body as a goal (although probably not obtainable without 3 coaches, a chef, and full-time training). That is a really interesting perspective from the upcoming generation’s POV.

    Who do they kids look up to then? How do you encourage them to reach for a healthy body shape (because even celebrities have slender shapes)? Or do you focus on functional abilities?

    • I really think the focus is on whole wellness. Many of the youth I work with have so many things they have to deal with on a daily basis, if they have some one in the community that has overcome the same obstacles and lives a balanced healthy life, than that should be their biggest aspiration.

  5. kat_rocket says:

    I first became aware of the Olympics when I watched the Seoul Olympics. I would have been 6 and I was hooked. I’ve watched every other Olympics since and I just love the ethos behind it. It really isn’t just about being Olympic champion, the message is to do your best in the spirit of the games. If it was just about winning all the time I don’t think you’d get the number of countries that you get competing at the games. I was at the women’s 800m heats which saw the first ever female competitors for Qatar and Saudi Arabia. I felt privileged to see such a huge thing taking place. Maybe in countries other than the host nation people will be inspired, like those women who have obviously fought against sexism and restriction to compete in the sport they love.
    At school level I maybe we need to look at functional physical abilities, like Mollie mentions, that can be carried forward over competitive sport which can become elitist and exclusive in a school environment.

    • What an amazing event to have experienced, I remember watching thinking how cool that must be for her country! Such a great point, there are many things that happen during the olympics that mean much more than winning the Gold. Thanks for sharing!

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