Sunday, August 17, 2008

Some Olympic Observations

Okay, I know the picture and the title don't match, but bear with me here. The photo is of a Minnesota Golden Gopher Cheerleader at The Barn cheering on the Gophs.

I, along with the rest of the planet, have been watching the description-defying journey of Michael Phelps to do what no Olympian before him has done. And I screamed my brains out at the finish of every race. But one of the most interesting aspects of the entire process for me was watching the dual interview with Phelps and swimming legend Mark Spitz.

Spitz couldn't have been more gracious. And Phelps carried himself very well too, a credit to his coach and his mama for not being big-headed in a situation where it would be a bit understandable.

During the medal ceremony last night for gold medal number eight, it saddened me a bit to see that during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner, the camera stayed right on Michael Phelps's face the whole time. That gold medal was awarded for a relay race in which three other teammates also got gold medals. It wasn't an individual effort, and yet, Peirsol, Hansen, and Lezak got no face time during the anthem. Made me sad for their mamas at home waiting for a glimpse of their sons' faces.

It got me to thinking. If Mark Spitz in Munich in 1972 had been content with five gold medals instead of seven, would Michael Phelps have aimed so high in this Olympics? And obviously, if the relay teams had not performed beyond what they were expected to do, even heroically in the case of Lezak, Phelps wouldn't be strolling Beijign with quite so much bling around his neck. Michael Phelps stands on top of the world today, but he does so by perching on the shoulders of others, both his contemporaries and teammates, and those who came before him. And I'm sure Phelps would be the first to acknowledge this.

This also applies to homeschooling, where those of us who choose to homeschool our children do so freely and with little interference due to the efforts of those who went before, who battled for legislation, who in some cases broke the laws of the day in order to educate their children the way they saw fit. The fact that Minnesota has a homeschool conference each year with more than five thousand attendees is a testament to all the hard work by these homeschooling pioneers and their willingness to take risks to do what they believed was right.

And this applies to Christian Fiction. Grace Livingstone Hill, Janette Oke, and Frank Peretti blazed a trail that subsequent Christian fiction authors follow today. Authors like Al Lacey, Gilbert Morris, and Brock and Bodie Thoene have paved a path for those who have come after them.

We all stand on the shoulders of those who have come before us, whether it is an Olympic champion, a homeschool mom, or a writer of Christian fiction. Take a moment to consider the people in your life who have motivated you to become the person you are now, to cherish the dreams you now hold. A teacher, a parent, someone you have only read about? Whose shoulders are you standing on?


  1. Parents, teachers, friends, colleagues, strangers all have a hand in shaping us and the learning doesn't stop. We constantly continue to grow and expand, reinvent ourselves and hopefully pass on our experiences to those who come behind. We are all links in a chain.

  2. Deep thoughts for a Monday;) And I'm not sure I have an answer on-hand that won't exclude someone important. There are so many people God has blessed me with over the years who pushed me to be better, do more, and be more excellent than I would have on my own. On my own I would have been content with a bag of chips on the couch watching I Love Lucy =)

  3. I just read that you're a DOUBLE FINALIST for the Genesis!! Wooo-hoooooo!!! Congratulations!!!!!

  4. Erica, I had the same thoughts when the camera stayed on Phelps.