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The games of summer

With the opening of Summer Olympics my mind went to some of the sports that will be featured. Yes, baseball is back. Other sports are making their debut. I watched a young man talk about skateboarding and the two divisions that will be part of the games.

During the opening ceremony it became quite apparent that the U. S. is just a small part of the whole world picture. I listened to the commentators talk about the population of the various countries. I saw where they were located. There were countries represented that I truthfully had never heard of. It was truly a geography lesson.

My years in sixth grade had me up to date with geography back then. During the Olympics we located each country and tracked their results. The kids had a lot of fun doing this and I am sure learned a lot. At the time we were subscribing to “USA Today” which had complete coverage of the events.

As Don and I watched the athletes enter the stadium we looked at the various costumes that each set of athletes wore. Some directly reflected their heritage while others were just colorful costumes.

All had a sense of pride as they marched in. One female athlete and one male athlete from each country were the flag bearers. The only exception to this policy is where there were no female athletes.

Now, it is down to business as they compete for medals. I have an interest in soccer having attended a match or two during the years my grandchildren played YMCA soccer and went on to play in high school.

Soccer has its roots in early China. It was called tsu chu (kick ball). The first set of rules were drawn up at Cambridge University in England in the mid-1800s.

Last night we watched beach volleyball and gymnastics; then it was on to swimming. While I prefer the winter Olympics, I am enjoying watching some of the summer events.

The first modern Olympics took place in Athens, Greece in1896. In the early days athletics was a big part of religious celebrations. I recall visiting a site in Mexico where the fans sat on a raised platform of grass for athletic events. The grass was terraced to allow spectators to see better.

James B. Connolly of the U.S. became the first modern Olympic champion. He competed in the hop, skip and jump event that has become what is known as the triple jump. My grandson competed in this event in high school. The year he was eligible for district competition, he had a leg injury and was unable to compete. His senior year — everything stopped for COVID — so once again he did not get to compete. Our children have made a lot of sacrifices because of COVID. Even his first year of college was done virtually!

In 1994 in Lillehammer, Norway the first winter Olympics was held under the new biennial — winter-summer schedule.

Records will fall and new ones will be set. That is just the way it is with the Olympics. The dedication to their sport is remarkable. The athletes have given up much to be able to compete. As I listen to the various interviews it is apparent how much time they have dedicated to their sport and the sacrifices made by whole families to allow competition to occur. Mothers and fathers talk about driving for hours for competitions. Some have even moved to be closer to desired coaches.

What happened in the world of gymnastics should never have happened. Those young people did not deserve what happened to them. Thankfully that is all behind them at this point. I am not sure how some of them are dealing with all of the stress of competition as well as the abuse.

While I enjoy sports, I was never an athlete. My endeavors took me another direction. I gave my all to the field of education. Training the next generation was important to me. I loved my job. I think they say if you like your work, it is not really work at all. That is kind of how I felt about teaching. I loved my students and wanted the best for them.

I still see many of my former students. I keep in touch by Facebook, too. It is fun to watch them develop into responsible adults. Now, some of them are parents so I get to see their youngsters.

Once a teacher, always a teacher.

I still teach in many instances. The grandchildren have benefited from my dedication to education.

I have helped all of them through some of their life experiences and will continue to do so as called upon.

Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, Pa. Contact at hickoryheights1@verizon.net.

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