Like many of you, I’ve been watching the Olympics the past few days. This time around, however, I seem to have a focused interest on the athletes’ moms who are attending the games. Maybe it’s because of the tear-jerker P&G ad that’s been running for months about the sacrifice that parents of Olympic athletes make over a lifetime to get their kids to the big finish. No small commitment to be sure. Or maybe it’s because I have a child the same age as most of the athletes, and I’m still working hard to keep her on track.
It’s tough enough without the pressures of an Olympic athlete’s schedule. Or maybe it’s because the camera men seem to delight in capturing the angst/joy/relief on the faces of parents in the stands. I felt all the dread in Debbie Phelps’s face as she watched her son come in fourth in the 400-meter individual medley. I shared the elation in Ileana Lochte’s face as her son won gold and the pure joy in John Orozco’s mother as she watched her gymnast son, complete with flag in her hair and love all over her face. Along with everyone, I watched with awe as D.A. Franklin and her husband showed complete amazement at their daughter’s gold-medal swim in the 100-meter backstroke. And then there’s Aly Raisman’s mom, twisting and turning in her seat, mimicking her daughter’s every move. The woman gets a 10 for seat-gymnastics. She’s a YouTube sensation.
Then there are the moms you won’t see on YouTube or anywhere in the stands. The parents of Voula Papachristou, a Greek triple jumper, and Michel Morganella, a Swiss soccer player. Both of these athletes have been expelled from the games for insensitive tweeting. Can you imagine the expression on their moms’ faces? Rage, anger and disappointment don’t begin to describe how I would feel if my son or daughter had been selfish and stupid enough to get expelled for spouting on social media. Can you imagine what sacrifices they’ve made, financially and emotionally, to get their idiot children to the games only to have them trash the opportunity? Papachristou was the first to go so Morganella gets a double-idiot star after his name for doing the same thing when he knew what could happen. And there will probably be one or two more because, sadly, outstanding athlete doesn’t always mean outstanding person. What a shame for their outstanding moms.