Wednesday, September 7, 2016

About That Gold Medal...

How many of you had a chance to watch the Olympics in Rio last month? I watched some of the events, mostly what was on during prime time. What I was most interested in was the medal count, and  I made sure to check that daily! For those of you who were wondering, the US Olympic team consisted of 558 athletes competing in 30 events. And that medal count: the US team came away with 121 total medals: 46 gold, 37 silver, and 38 bronze. This means that just a little over 21% of our US Olympic team athletes earned a medal. (Well, not exactly; some athletes won multiple medals, so that is a bit skewed.) Nevertheless, that is pretty darn impressive if you ask me! The next closes country was China where they had a total of 70: 26 gold, 18 silver, and 26 bronze. If this were a competition, the USA clearly would have won! Wait, it was a competition.

An interesting phenomenon occurs during the Olympics. Little girls get excited about gymnastics and membership at local gyms picks up. Young dreamers with aspirations of Olympic gold start hitting the track. We even had a group of high school students approach Mr. Dieken about joining the swim team in Cedar Falls (we do allow that here in case you were wondering). About halfway through the games, the Des Moines Register published a listing of all the events in the Olympics and where young athletes could go to train locally for those respective sports. There is even a place where you can learn to fence! Gyms and venues all over the Metro saw an increase in membership. It would seem these Olympic athletes became quite the role models for youngsters all around the country.

As it turns out, all athletes are role models for young people. These youngsters that dream of Olympic gold are also the same students who are in our stands during a volleyball game on Thursday night, or cheering the football team on Friday night. They look forward with eager anticipation to the day they will be able to wear that blue jersey in competition and represent Pirate Nation on the varsity squad.

While winning is important and fun for our athletes, their conduct on and off the field is equally important. Because we understand our student-athletes are role models for our younger students, we hold them to very high standards. That is one of the reasons we have a Good Conduct Policy and remind our students that when they wear that jersey, they not only represent themselves as an individual, but they represent our team, school, and the Hudson community:
"Students who participate in extracurricular activities serve as ambassadors of the school district throughout the calendar year, whether away from school or at school. Students who wish to have the privilege of participating in extracurricular activities must conduct themselves in accordance with board policy and must refrain from activities which are illegal, immoral or unhealthy." Board Policy 503.1
There is nothing that makes me prouder than getting a phone call from a community where an outstanding display of sportsmanship is witnessed, or when someone takes the time to comment on the polite and gracious conduct of our students. And it happens more often than you think. I remember one example during the state soccer tournament in Des Moines this past spring where one of the Forwards from the opposing team got hurt by our goal box. While play continued on the opposite end of the field, our Goalie rendered aide to his fallen opponent. He checked on him, then ran to his post, not to defend the goal, but to get his water bottle for the hurt athlete. Unfortunately we lost that game. I don't remember the score, but I do remember that display of incredible courage and sportsmanship.

So my question: How many of you knew what our medal count was in the Olympics before I told you at the beginning of the article? Honestly, I had to look it up myself. But do you know what I didn't have to look up? The fact that Ryan Lochte embarrassed our country by making up a tale about being robbed at a Rio gas station. Or the fact that Hope Solo called her opponents 'cowards' because they got beat.

Our athletes, all of our athletes are role models. People look up to them and aspire to be like them. Certainly some of these Olympic athletes could learn a thing or two from our own Pirate Nation.

And here is the thing about that gold medal: it doesn't shine quite so bright when you win on the court but can't conduct yourself with the dignity that goes with representing those who chose you. 

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