Olympic Truths: “All that Glitters is not Gold”:

I thought it would be an interesting to share the article, linked below (insert link in your browser), about the lack of glory and financial hardship in pursuit of Olympic participation. http://money.cnn.com/2012/07/10/news/economy/olympic-athletes-financial/index.htm?hpt=hp_c1. The sacrifices made by aspiring Olympians is an interesting psychological study. I have been questioned many times about how exciting it must be to be involved with the Olympic Team. Once the brief period passes in which one habituates to the uniqueness of elite athletics, the daily grind and monotony becomes apparent as well as the enormous commitment and sacrifices of the athletes. Personally, I find it as rewarding to work with scholastic, recreational or competitive amateurs as I do with elite amateurs or professional athletes. As any of you who have worked with “celebrities or famous” individuals or the “exceptionally achieving/crazy rich” person can attest, once you get to know them the glamour, celebrity, or trappings of wealth far recedes into the background of your work with them. Over the past month, I have worked with several athletes who have trained 6 days/wk 5-7 hrs a day for years, some decades and missed making the London Olympic team. No matter how much you advocate “it’s the journey, not the destination” or “it’s the process not the outcome”, the athletes dream and goal is to be an Olympian or medalist. Trying to prepare single-mindedly in daily practices, week after week, month after month in pursuit of an Olympic berth can be a crushing loss if unattained. Especially for those who expected to make the team. The athletes motivation for achievement or sustained exercise/training is not homogeneous. The range spans from childhood dreams of being on the podium and a deeply rooted identification with being declared “the best”, to those who seem to have an innate drive of achievement motivation and hunger for competition to yet others who seem to use the isolating, separate-from-the-real-world lifestyle of constant training as a good place to hide. In this latter example, the athletes combination of talent and endless practice defends against developmental challenges. My colleague Judy Van Raalte at Springfield College has made the distinction between athletes (those whose identity is more then their athletic participation) and jocks (those whose sole identity and self-esteem rests on being an athlete). Regardless of motivation and eventually accomplishments, the road to the Olympics might be best characterized as “all that glitters is not gold”. I will be posting during the Olympics and sharing reactions and observations. Best Regards, Marshall