Thursday, August 11, 2016

Leave the girls alone!

You never do anything right
You never put anything in its place
No wonder everyone calls you
Failure Face.

From "Failure Face", from "A Boy Named Charlie Brown". 

Gymnast Simone Biles is predicted to win five--yes, five--gold medals in this Olympics.  As I write this, she's competing in the all-around event of women's gymnastics.  

She is 19 years old and considered the best female gymnast of all time.

But predicting five gold medals for her is setting her up to be a failure face.

Because, no matter what she does, no matter how many gold medals she wins, no matter how many Olympic medals she wins, the story is not going to be what she won.  The story will be, why didn't she win the five gold medals she was predicted to win?  

Gabby Douglas is having a similar problem.

Four years ago, in London, she became the first African-American gymnast to win the all-around gold medal.  

Within 24 hours, the Internet was abuzz about. . . . Her hair.  

Apparently, something was wrong with Gabby because she was using hair gel on her hair.  

Tuesday night, the American girls became the first American team to win back-to-back Olympic gold medals in team gymnastics.  Because this is Martha Karolyi's final Olympics, they have named their team the "Final Five".  

The Internet is now abuzz about not only Gabby's hair, but the fact that she didn't put her hand over her heart during the National Anthem.   

I did check the US Flag Code, and the code does say that non-military people, during the playing of the National Anthem, should face the flag and put their right hand over their heart.  

While researching the Flag Code, I came upon a mention of Barack Obama's failure to put his hand over his heart during the National Anthem in a now-infamous picture that has since circulated the Internet to show his supposed lack of patriotism.  He was quoted as saying, "I was taught that you put your hand over your heart during the Pledge of Allegiance, but during the National Anthem, you sing."

I'll give Gabby the benefit of the doubt.  Perhaps that was how she learned it as well.  I will say that she stood at attention and was respectful.  

As for her hair . . . I'm a white woman, and I don't completely understand the fuss over the hair.  I will say that she has to keep her hair out of her eyes when she's performing.  Her hair gets in her eyes, she can't see; she can't see, at the least, she makes a mistake on her apparatus; at worst, she gets hurt on her apparatus!

Simone Biles and Gabby Douglas are in an impossible position.  No matter what they do, someone is not going to be happy with them.

Gabby is 20.  Simone is 19.  They are at the pinnacle of their gymnastics careers.  They have achieved what only five women in the United States can achieve every four years.

Give them a break.

Leave the girls alone!

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

The beginning of the end . . .

This week marked the beginning of the end.

Matthew got on a bus for his senior year in high school.

Next year at this time, he'll be getting on a bus to go to a different program, for life skills and job skills, run by the Gwinnett County Public Schools, called STRIVE.

So on Monday, when he got on that bus, it was the last "first day of school" for him.

In just a few weeks, it'll be the last open house.

Then it'll be the last Thanksgiving break.

Then the last Christmas break.

The last Special Olympics stuff he'll do this year.

In May, he'll be one of the ones honored at our church's Senior Honors Night.  And on May 24, 2017, it will be his last day of school.

Sometime during the first few months of 2017, I will do my last IEP meeting before he graduates.  (I will probably be doing IEPs for his time in STRIVE.)

The song "Sunrise, Sunset" has suddenly become more poignant for me this year.

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Underdog Olympics

One thing that Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, knows how to do is throw a party.

So when the loudspeakers blared the opening notes of the appropriately selected song "Brazil" and the audience roared its welcome, it should have come as no surprise that the flagbearer of the Brazilian Olympic team danced into Maracana Stadium.

I didn't stay up to see the entire Opening Ceremonies.  I did watch the Parade of Nations, which to me, is one of the best and most intriguing part of the Olympics. I enjoy seeing the outfits bedecking each nation's team members.  (In the case of the flagbearer from Tonga, more people enjoyed the fact that his chest was not bedecked in a national outfit.)

In the days leading up to these Games, I've seen speculation that they might be canceled, that Rio just wasn't ready for the Olympics.  I've heard about the raw sewage in the water.  I've heard about the poor Australians and their problems in the Olympic Village -- blocked toilets, a fire, and theft.  The host of this Olympics is an interim president.  The current president of Brazil is being impeached. And the budget of the Opening Ceremonies was cut.  Severely.

So, Rio resorted to what it knew how to do best:  Music, dancing, and color.  They channeled the energy that is Rio into Maracana Stadium.

People love the story of an underdog.  With an impeached president, a limited budget, and sanitation problems facing these Olympics, perhaps the city of Rio could be cast in the role of underdog.

I think that's one reason I like the Parade of Nations.  When the athletes march in, the commentators will often find a story about one or two of the athletes to humanize the representatives of that particular country.  Such as, the fact that Vietnam may have the chance to win its first Olympic gold medal, ever.  (They did.  Vinh Xuan Hoang won in the 10-meter air pistol event.)  Or, the triplets from Estonia -- Leila, Liina, and Lily Luik -- who will all compete in the marathon.  Their slogan?  "Trio to Rio."  We hear about such people, and we may think, "Nice story, but can they win?"  Thus, they become an underdog, and most people have a soft spot in their hearts for underdogs.

Before the audience roared their welcome to the Brazilian Olympic team, they paid tribute to who are, perhaps, the ultimate "underdogs" in these games.  They are ten athletes, five from South Sudan, two from Syria, and two from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, competing as members of the Refugee Olympic Team.  Their handle on social media is #teamrefugee, and they were greeted with a standing ovation.

The underdogs, more than anyone, probably appreciate the Olympic creed:  "The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the more important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle.  The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well."

Rio, at the moment, is in the "fighting" stage.  According to one news commentator, Rio's answer to their critics will be to put on a good show.

So, crank up your bossa nova and brush up on your samba moves.  Rio de Janeiro is throwing a party and they have invited the world.

Let the Games begin!


Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.