My theme for the 3 quotes challenge is the Olympics. Have you been watching them? I’m sure there is a sport that appeals to everyone. Every four years, I gleefully anticipate the 17 days of the summer Olympic games. This is my idea of fun!
I was nominated by my lovely gal pal from Australia, Sue Loncaric at Sizzling Toward Sixty. Please pay a visit to her wonderful blog!
The WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge theme is Fun so I will be incorporating both challenges into this post!
I managed to “pirate” a couple of images off the TV (captured with my phone). I’m sure NBC won’t mind, nor will the Olympic committee. I’m sure they are too busy to chase me down (crosses fingers).
I know I’m breaking the rules I have featured in my e-book (sorry, shameless plug, I know) but it’s FUN just to say out loud that I am a self-published, indie author and wrote a book. If you are a writer (you are a blogger aren’t you??) you may have a book inside you ready to be written and self-published.
Here is a quote about the fun of self-publishing:
“Self-publishing isn’t easy, but it’s fun and sometimes even lucrative.” Guy Kawasaki.
But I digress.
Back to the fun of the Olympics.
Last week, the “Simones,” both incredible athletes who happen to be black, earned gold medals in swimming and gymnastics. We have seen other black medalists in women’s gymnastics.
Diversity in Women’s Gymnastics
At the 1996 games in Atlanta, Dominique Dawes was part of the Magnificent Seven that won the gold in the women’s team competition. She became the first African-American to earn an individual (bronze) medal in women’s gymnastics. At the 2012 London Games, Gabby Douglas became the first African-American gymnast to win the All-Around Gold Medal.
Simone Biles, who won the gold in 2016’s All-Around competition, was expected to win, but her doing so is still ground-breaking. Her Olympic medal haul includes four gold and one bronze.
“I’m not the next Usain Bolt or Michael Phelps, I’m the first Simone Biles.”
Diversity in the Swimming Pool
Simone Manuel, American swimmer and Stanford University student, is the first-ever black woman to garner a gold medal in an individual swimming event. She tied for the honor, but the feat was incredible nonetheless.
“The gold medal wasn’t just for me. It was for people that came before me and inspired me to stay in the sport,” she said. “For people who believe that they can’t do it. I hope I’m an inspiration to others to get out there and try swimming.”
Another black athlete of note is Ashleigh Johnson, the first African American to play on the U.S. women’s Olympic water polo team. The 6’1″ goalkeeper plays for Princeton’s Tigers water polo team. The Olympic team plays for the gold medal later this week! Read more about her influence in this Washington Post article.
“Like Manuel in swimming, Johnson hopes her success inspires other African Americans to take up her sport.” David Sheinin, for the Washington Post.
“Water polo is fun.” Ashleigh Johnson
Why are these particular gold medals so significant?
Because gymnastics, swimming, water polo, tennis and golf are known as “country club” sports where it has been rare to see diverse athletes excel, let alone participate.
Although slavery, a scourge that plagued America for 245 years, was abolished by President Abe Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, white folks in the South still were not willing to share their spaces with blacks or any other persons of color. Not only did segregation rear its ugly head for many more years, the barriers it created are still evident in this century.
I wrote more about this subject in a post Why Inner City Kids Need Black Lifeguards.
In terms of recreation and leisure, seeing a black person play golf or tennis just did not happen in the late 1880s and into the early 1900s. These sports, including swimming, water polo, and equestrian polo, were only available to people with money–mostly people that could afford the clean facilities that country clubs offered. If you were not a member of the club, you were not going to find a clean, safe swimming pool or manicured lawns on which to play.
Segregation meant that if children of color wanted to cool off in water on a sweltering summer day, they would have to go to a filthy drainage ditch, or play in fields of dry weeds, or in the streets. Their leisure spaces were simply not available, much less safe.
Original image by Kimberly Glaster. Used by permission
Generations of racially diverse families did not take swimming lessons, or go out for tennis or play golf. Where would they engage in these sports? Few family traditions were established to engage in these sports on a regular basis.
In professional sports, we have seen the success of Tiger Woods in golf; Arthur Ash and sisters Venus and Serena Williams in tennis. In amateur sports such as gymnastics and swimming, racial diversity is slow to catch on.
Enter Simone Manuel and Ashleigh Johnson into the world of swimming, and Simone Biles into world class gymnastics. Sure, both used the university platform to compete, but what athlete doesn’t?
Regardless of how these black athletes entered these sports, their Olympic efforts have broken barriers and will inspire youngsters to BE like them someday.
The very spirit of the world stage of the Olympics is to encourage diversity and good will among athletes of all nations.
And you thought I was going to talk about fun. Well, this is how leisure education works.
For these black athletes, and the future generations they will inspire, the fun is just beginning!