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London Olympics: Celebrating Athletes And Their Moms


I am such a happy camper with 24-hour-a-day Olympic coverage! I am logging about 12 hours of viewing a day.  Yes, I know I am addicted. But I know I have company: most sports junkies are, too!

Recently, I ran late for a meeting. My only explanation was the truth: I got caught up in Brazil vs. Italy men's beach volleyball. My client nodded, and then asked who won!

The fever is everywhere! I am noticing that there is a lot of attention given to the athlete's parents in the stands. In fact, Proctor and Gamble has thanked me personally as a sports mom! I cannot decide if it is additional media coverage or due to the fact that I am just paying more attention, because I am knee-deep in my years as a sports mom, too? London Olympic Aquatics Stamp

Just as I cheer every athlete to do their best, I am anxious to see the response from their parents. It is only adds to the excitement in London. As we all know, the athletes do not participate alone. There are parents, coaches, trainers, out there with them in spirit. The athlete may compete for their country, their coach, and their family, but their parents are the only ones there whose focus is on their child/athlete.

I have watched many reactions from these uber fans and I recognize that I have many similar traits. As I begin to get ready for my tour of duty as sport parent 2012-2013, I am looking for my own Olympic mentor, and whom I want to be like, too.

An extra coach, a turtle, and some private space

In gymnastics, the gold medal winner and all around individual gymnastic star for me is Aly Raisman.  Her mom can be seen in the stands cringing, sweating, doing the routine with her head and arms, and coaching from the bleachers. Yes. I recognize this. My daughter is a competitive dancer. Although I physically cannot do the skills, in my head I can, and know the routine inside and out. I also know my son's football plays and codes. When I hear the call for "MONSTER LEFT", I, too, am out there "running the rock"!

For the mom of John Orozco, a USA men's gymnast, she cannot even bear to watch.  She is there in the stands, but goes into a shell, hiding her eyes when he competes. I do this, too. Mostly on "MONSTER LEFT"!

When his son, a decided underdog, won gold for South Africa in swimming, one dad was stunned. He covered his face in the colorful South African flag.  When someone took the flag away to congratulate him, we could all see that he was crying and laughing at the same time. He just wanted a moment to himself.  I, too, want some space from the world as my kids compete.

London calling

Teenage phenom Missy Franklin's mom and dad just look happy to be there. The camera found them way at the top of the swim center with binoculars trying to pick out their daughter. I noticed that their seats moved down from nosebleed heaven and kept getting closer to the pool as Missy wins more gold medals.  I loved her parents' spirit and feeling that conveyed that they were just happy to be there. Who cares what happens next!

Contrast Franklin's parents with veteran sports mom, Debbie Phelps.  She has to be in the Hall of Fame of sports moms.  I shared her excitement when Michael won 8 gold medals in Beijing in 2008.  Michael says that London is his last Olympics,  but you would never know it from watching his mom. She was cheering him on in every race, just as happy and proud of her son as all the other swimmers on the US team, enjoying the experience as if it were her first Olympics, instead of her fourth.  Michael may have swum his last race - winning gold as part of the U.S. men's 4 x 100 medley relay, an event the US has never lost,  but I have a feeling Mrs. Phelps is such a super sports mom that she will be cheering someone's son on in Rio in 2016.  I am just hoping it is Michael!

God save the Queen

Yes, I see a part of myself in all of these incredibly dedicated and loyal parents.  I think America's parents are faring well at the Games of the XXX Olympiad.  I  try my hardest to be just as classy, spirited, understanding and devoted when my son takes to the gridiron and my daughter to the dance floor this fall. 

But there is another "mum" (as they call moms in England) that I want to emulate: a fearless and tireless sports grand mum with a remarkable attitude about life and competition: Great Britian's Queen Elizabeth II.  She has done it all at these Olympic games! She helped London win the right to host the games, she is entertaining the world in her own back yard, she declared the Games open, and was - in one of the highlights of the Opening Ceremonies - even became the latest  "Bond Girl."

If that wasn't enough for an octogenarian monarch, her granddaughter Zara Phillips represented her country in the equestrian events, helping Great Britain ride to a silver medal. I am sure her grand mum was equally proud, rode the course in her own mind, closed her eyes at the thought of a crash, perhaps shed a small, proud tear and cracked a small smile at the medal ceremony, was so proud her family was represented at the Olympics and hopes her granddaughter will have the opportunity to compete again.

The difference between a Queen sports (Grand) mum and us common sports moms is not royal blood. I believe she is just representing her own British motto, which I hope she won't mind if I borrow for the upcoming sports season: Keep Calm and Carry On! The Queen has multi-tasked to make this Olympics a smashing success. You never see her stress her out. Yes, that is what I will strive to do in all sports and other related activities this year! It will be a chaotic year for sure, but if I can just keep calm and keep going, all will be well. If the Queen has ruled Britannia for 60 years using this motto, I can survive 10 months of football, baseball, basketball, dance and drill team with similar panache.

It is worth a try, although I might need to buy a couple of Corgis to complete my Olympic dream and maintain order in my own realm!

Gretchen Rose is is a 14-year sports mom veteran and frequent momsTEAM contributor from Dallas, Texas. She and her kids have done everything from karate and ice skating to horseback riding. Gretchen owns and runs two businesses: an events company and KidzMat.  In her spare time, Gretchen loves running with her dog, Gigi. She Tweets @KidzMat and you can find her on Facebook by clicking here.

Posted August 5, 2012