There are many individual moments that can be taken from the Olympics that ended earlier this week. The opening and closing ceremonies were spectacular as
chance to showcase itself to the world. London
Additionally, there were specific performances that grabbed our attention. The men’s basketball team sent a message to the world that the
is still the dominant nation when it comes to this sport. Swimmer Michael
Phelps climaxed his career by staking claim to the title of most prolific
athlete in Olympic history. Jamaican runner Usain Bolt also reminded us that he
remains the baddest man on the planet when it comes to the 100- and 200-meter
dashes. United States
However, the biggest story (from an American point of view) has to be the performance of the women representing the
Women won two-thirds of the gold medals our nation brought home and were the
primary reason our country won the most medals. United States
If it was not for the women, where would we be? Of course, it has not always been this way. Title IX legislation in the 1970s paved the way for women to get more equitable treatment when it came to sports. True, there were women’s sports before that, but their options were more limited.
Women's basketball did not become an official Olympic sport until the 1976 games in
The women’s marathon did not come until eight years later in Montreal . Those are two sports we take for
granted now, but the opportunities were not there a generation ago. Los Angeles
Because of this growth, women provided some of the most memorable moments of the
games. The soccer team provided thrills by beating London Canada
in a controversial semi-final and then gained a measure of revenge against who beat
them a year before in the World Cup. Japan
The women's basketball team was as dominant as the men's. The only negative comment I can think of regarding them is that they were coached by Connecticut head coach Geno Auriemma (as a Tennessee grad, he is a little hard to swallow).
And, of course, there were the individual performances. Seventeen-year-old Missy Franklin appears on her way to becoming the new face of American swimming. She won four gold medals and one bronze. With her bubbly personality and unique style, she will likely reap a lot of publicity as the media looks for a new swimming focal point now that Michael Phelps is leaving.
Also, Gabby Douglas caught the world’s attention by becoming the first African-American to win the all-around gold medal in gymnastics. Like
stardom awaits her. Franklin
The emergence of women on the global Olympic stage showed itself in other ways. As hard as this may be to believe, this is the first time all competing nations sent female athletes.
sent women athletes for the first time. For those who believe that progress is
slow in the Brunei ,
consider what the women there must be going through. United States
We can only imagine where women in those countries could be in 40 years if their nations start showing a commitment to providing athletic opportunities for them. As stated earlier, some Olympic sports that seem common place now were put in place for women only 30 years ago.
For further perspective, I can remember going to basketball games when I was a boy and the girls still were playing the old six-on-six format. Basically, it was a three-on-three format at each end of the court. Looking back, it seems pretty weird, but that was the way it was.
Progress is being shown so let’s continue to encourage the girls and women in our communities.