Over the years, the Olympics have played an important role in my life. I enjoy the excitement it provides every four years. For two weeks in summer I have been thrilled, had my heart broken and taken on an escalator ride from the highest elation to the lowest despair. ABC-TV's Wide World of Sports coined the perfect phrase..."The Thrill of Victory, The Agony of Defeat".
This year, the London Games will showcase the skills of elite athletes in peak condition. However, not everyone can become an elite athlete. As a member of President Nixon's Council on Physical Fitness alongside my pal, Dr. Ernie Vandeweghe, I learned that the term Olympian means different things to many people. Yet, the idea of a competition to do one's best always prevailed.
President Eisenhower created the Council in 1956... hoping it would become a catalytic agent to stimulate physical fitness especially in our youth. At the time, we lagged far behind European youngsters.
First Lady Michelle Obama and New York's Mayor Bloomberg are today attempting to legislate proper eating habits among youngsters. Their hearts are in the right place, but they are going about it the wrong way.
I applaud voluntary organized physical activities.
Ernie V. wrote "Growing with Sports". Out of print now, it should be required reading in elementary/ middle schools. It has an important message for parents and kids alike. A former New York Knick, he became a Pediatrician. The book and its message proved his point.
Using the book as a guide, he and his wife raised four children-- every one an academic over-achiever plus All-Americans/Olympians in five different sports
Today, there are Olympic sub-areas. Each, in some way, is an important part of our daily lives... among them: Paralympics, Special Olympics, Senior Olympics and Junior Olympics.
Grantland Rice once wrote, "When the great scorer comes to mark beside your name, he writes-not that you won, or lost - but how you played the game". These sub-areas epitomize this slogan.
The Paralympics Summer Games is the second largest sporting event in the world next to the Olympic games. It was first held in (Rome) 1960 for only Wheelchair Athletes. Originally called the Wheelchair Games was created in 1948 for disabled World War II veterans. Today, there are six major classifications... the visually impaired, physical disabilities, amputee athletes, cerebral palsy sufferers and spinal cord injured.
The Special Olympics began in 1968. Eunice Shriver, President Kennedy's sister, organized the first games. She proved that people with intellectual disabilities were far more capable in sports and physical activities than experts thought. Today, there are over 2million athletes worldwide run by 500,000 non-profit volunteers.
The first Senior Olympic Games were in St. Louis, (1987). Today, blessed by the USOC, the Senior Summer Games is one of the world's largest multi-sports events. It is dedicated to motivating active adults to lead a healthy life style.
The Olympic motto says: In Latin, " Citius, Atius, Fortius" - In English, "Swifter, Higher, Stronger."
Thank you Grantland Rice !