I wonder if the price of Olympic Gold is worth it. Children give up their childhood to train 5-8 hours a day for years for a chance to compete in an event that may last under a minute. Athlete’s desperate to win, turn to drugs for an unfair advantage. Other athlete’s seek to become a citizen of a foreign country and compete against their own country for a piece of the gold. Coach’s have no loyalty to their country and train player’s of another country for the almighty dollar. Country’s fire coaches who refuse to run their athlete’s into the ground by training seven days a week. I wonder, is it worth it?
On the other hand, there are those who seek Olympic Gold to serve and honor their country, who compete to bring nations together and establish closer ties between people’s of the world and seek to push their own limits to be the best they can be. Certainly, the values of hard work, discipline, commitment and helping a team to perform at their best are life skills that can benefit the athlete long after their athletic career is over.
As a sports psychologist, I have worked with young elite athletes seek to become professionals and professionals to perform at their best, manage the pressures of professional sports or looking for help in adjusting to life after sports. However, I have not yet personally had the opportunity to work with Olympic athletes.
In some cases, Olympic athletes are already professional athletes. In other cases, Olympic athletes hope their success might help them in becoming professional athletes.
In searching for Olympic Gold it is easy to lose sight of the value and importance of competing and doing one’s best. Winning a medal gets far more attention than all the intrinsically valuable lessons athletes learn by competing on the world’s most prestigious stage.