Looking for something fun to do with your kids this summer? Want to do something that is both educational AND inspirational? Set up a few “dates” to watch the Olympics together! As a two time Olympian and a father of a 6 ½ year old, I can tell you that we will definitely be watching a lot of Olympic coverage in our house. Here are a few ideas to help you enjoy the biggest sporting event in the world while also getting in some quality time with your little ones.
TALK ABOUT IT
Share your own personal knowledge and experience of watching the Olympics. For me that means telling my daughter about the first time I watched the Olympics when I was 8 years old. I’ll never forget seeing Bruce Jenner, after winning the decathlon, running around the Olympic stadium waving the American flag. The entire country was unified in a single moment. Magical. Of course I also have personal stories to share about being IN the Olympics and what it meant to me. I always tell Lucy that being in the Olympic Village made me realize that the whole world really is just one big village. It’s an example of how every country can come together and live in harmony. It’s much bigger than just a sporting event.
MAKE IT RELATABLE
What sports has your child been involved with? If you’ve been up on a balance beam it’s easier to relate to it when you watch it on TV. There’s a good chance that the kids on the swim team will be more interested in the swimming and the little gymnasts or divers will be interested in those sports. If there are sports that you want to introduce to the kids, this is a great time to do it. Go to you tube and watch diving videos. Here’s one of me from the 1996 Olympics. There are plenty of videos on every sport! There are also lots of entertaining and emotional short clips that are available to help you get to know the athletes. The Olympics are filled with great stories. Check out this one on Olympic runner Lopez Lomong. Watch the documentary about British diver Tom Daley too. These are real stories about real people. Be prepared for a lot of emotion. It’s always more fun to watch if you know a little something about the people you’re watching.
SET A SCHEDULE
A lot of the coverage will be starting at 8 p.m. ET. For our family that is past bedtime! We’ll make an exception for the Opening Ceremonies, but we don’t want our daughter to stay up late for two whole weeks. No worries! Use your DVR and watch the next day. No DVR? No problem! There will be more online coverage than ever this year. Almost all the diving will be live streamed. With London six hours ahead, it makes it easy to watch events during the day. Many of the diving events will be on at 10 a.m. or 2 p.m. ET. Perfect for kids of all ages! Check the Olympics live stream schedule here. You can even sign up for email alerts to remind you when your favorite event will be on.
Remind your kids that it’s all about fun. Yes, I was one of the lucky few who won a medal but most of the competitors don’t. Just being at the Olympics is a huge honor. It’s always exciting to see people win medals, but the stories are really what make it fun. These are real people, some of them as young as 15 years old, who are living their dream. Every one of them is there because they found something that they love. The Olympics only come around every four years. Most of the time, these kids are down at the gym or the pool or the track just doing what they love.
For me the Olympics has always been a very personal experience. It became a goal and a driving force in my life from the time I first watched when I was eight years old. It became a way of life as I pursued my goals and dreams through the sport of diving. It became a permanent part of my identity when I had the opportunity to represent my country in two consecutive Olympics. And now I continue to live by the values I learned through my Olympic journey as I help to spread the Olympic ideals to the next generation.
It all started when I was eight years old watching my first Olympics.
Scott Donie is a two-time Olympian who competed in the 1992 & 1996 Olympics in diving. In the 1992 Olympics, he was a silver medalist in the 10 meter platform diving and in the 1996 Olympics he placed fourth in the three meter, springboard diving competition. Scott is an 11 time U.S. national champion in diving. Since 2000, he has served as the head coach of the New York University’s men’s and women’s diving teams. He resides in Manhattan with his wife and six-year-old daughter.
*Photo credit: flag photo taken by Bill Frakes for Sports Illustrated. The photo of Scott diving with Barcelona in the background was taken by his dad, Rol Donie.