The Olympic Games have been such a joy to watch. Michael Phelps is beyond amazing. He has had such a blessed career. What a way to retire in Rio. Then there is Sarah Robles who won the first weightlifting medal for the USA since 2000. Katie Ledecky and Rafaela Silva have also become some of my favorites to watch. The list goes on with the success stories and victories of athletes that have trained for years for this moment.
Being black and watching the Olympics with my children has been inspiring. You have to understand for me growing up sports like swimming, golf, skiing(I know that is a winter sport) were things that most blacks didn’t participate in. Or were discouraged to participate in. I heard the stories from my family about how blacks weren’t allowed in the same pools with whites. Dorothy Dandridge just put her toe in the water and they had the entire pool drained. If a black person was on the golf course they were serving the food or trimming the grounds. They were not teeing off.
So when I saw Simone X2, win gold medals in events that were unheard of for blacks to participate in the past. It was an emotional experience. Don’t get me wrong I teared up watching Michael Phelps and when the entire women’s gymnastic team earned gold medals as well.
That is why I love to see diversity in sports like hockey, fencing, and soccer. Not all children will be successful in football or basketball and that is okay. So it is great seeing parents expose their children to a variety of sports.
I just think about the little girls that watched Gabby, and Simone display their talents in gymnastics. Witnessing the Olympics may help them see that the sky is the limit for their dreams. There are so many lessons that we can learn from the Olympic Games in Rio. Lessons of hope, teamwork, leadership, overcoming the odds, rising out of poverty, and the joys of adoption are all things that some of those athletes endured. I just get excited about diversity and learning from other cultures. Don’t you?
Let me go back to Tiger Woods for a moment. He was a young, handsome black golfer that we all embraced and put on a platform. Then one day out of the blue, Tiger had to to tell the world that he wasn’t black. That in itself could be a blog but now is not the time for that. My point is that Tiger broke barriers and played on courses that didn’t allow blacks to enter. That was history for black people.
I believe that there was a day that Tiger realized he was black. That was when he wife “hit him in his head” with a golf club and crashed his windshield for being unfaithful. See that was a sista move right there from Waiting to Exhale. Slowly Tiger began to come back to the sounds of blackness as he fell from grace.
So for those that can’t understand the importance of why we as black people are celebrating these athletes, let me leave you with my final thoughts. For me, I want the youth to see positive figures to embrace and look up to. They need that more than they have ever needed it before. They need to know how to problem solve and work together for a common goal. There are so many positive benefits of being an athlete.
All athletes should be respected and accepted. And definitely not judged about why “the edges of their hair is not straight”.
If your child expresses an interest in a sport that is out of your comfort zone, don’t fight it. You might be raising the next Olympian in__________________. You fill in the blank.
Believe in yourself, when others don’t believe in you.