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She gave up everything--Kelci Bryant, US diver
scholar - 11-8-2008 at 02:36

Is the sacrifice that Olympic athletes make, worth it? Some athletic competitions can prepare a person for a commercial career in the sport. But, is it worth it, if they will never make a living at it?

I was thinking about this after I saw a video clip of Kelci Bryant, one of the US synchronized diving team. The US hired a former Chinese coach, who copied their method. The Americans in training had to LEAVE THEIR PARENTS BEHIND AND MOVE TO TRAINING IN INDIANAPOLIS. Kelci said, "I've given up everything. I left my family behind. I literally have no friends--only the people on the team.":(

Imagine that! In one's formative years, a person with few friends can get by OK with a strong family, and a person without a strong family can get by with good friends--but what if you have neither? If your only possible friends are people thrown into the same abnormal training situation as you?

Kelci said she has prepared for TEN YEARS. After a person stops competing in synchronized diving, what do they have to show for it? Can they get a college scholarship? I don't see how it would help them get a job (except training the next ones).

Kelci Bryant and her partner came in fourth. For her ten years, she got no medals.:(

What do you think?


Quaver - 11-8-2008 at 03:22

If she wanted to do that, then that was her choice. She gave her best shot. OK no medals, but she doesn't have that life long 'what if';)


scholar - 11-8-2008 at 04:19

But she does.
What if-- she had made friends in high school, who would be her friends for the rest of her life?
What if-- she had dated a few boys in high school, learning social confidence in a dating situation, perhaps helping her resist giving herself too completely to one of the first few guys to date her after her diving is over?
What if-- a program of more well-rounded studies, combined with school clubs and hobbies, had helped her establish that she wanted a career in which she could make a good living for the rest of her life?
What if-- her first several experiences with alcohol were safer because of parents in her life-environment?

If it happens that she loses either of her parents before many years pass, I predict she will regret her decision. And she might very well feel the same way, even had she won some medals.

[I should perhaps disclose that, because of my exceptional ability in science, mathematics, language arts, and general academics, various universities wanted me to attend and pursue other degrees and specialties. I would not be so well-rounded today if I had chosen another path. I expect I would have a better salary, but I doubt I would be spending so much time visiting the sick, etc.]


Nimuae - 11-8-2008 at 08:18

She made her choice. She was given the honour of competing and representing her country in one of the most prestigious sporting events on the planet. It doesn't matter that she didn't win - she was there!

She is still young and fit enough to make other choices, have relationships, whatever - what's the problem ?

We all have to face losing family at one time or an other, I lost my sister when I was 12 years old. My parents are gone now, and last November I lost my brother. Death is a fact of life - you deal with it at what ever stage it manifests itself.

I think the words 'what if' and 'if only' are among the saddest that we have, and they are far too small to be the foundation on which we build our lives.


janet - 11-8-2008 at 08:22

"What if" and "If only" are some of the worst words in the world - they help no one.

And they REALLY don't help anyone grieving - for a lost love one, lost possiblities, whatever.

I'm with you, Nimuae.


LSemmens - 11-8-2008 at 12:24

I don't think that those two phrases even fit into the vocabulary of Olympians or leaders in any field, not only sports. The give it 110% and if they succeed, they say, "great", if they don't, they just say "tomorrow is another day", and get on with it.
We were living on the other side of the country when our mother's each died, it did not mean that we loved them any the less.
A person who has become successful at the highest level in sports would be well equiped to pursue any career path when they finally choose to retire. They have the drive and stamina to make things happen.


janet - 11-8-2008 at 12:40

There's also the point that if it's only worth going to the Olympics if one wins - then surely there's no point in more than about four or five people per sport going? It's certainly not the way I'd want my own kids to think about sport...


scholar - 12-8-2008 at 07:37

I certainly would not ask my "what if" list to someone who has already given up so much for their sport. It was prompted by Quaver's "what if" question.

But, to parents who would be deciding whether to allow a child to have a well-rounded experience of early life with the benefit of family and friends, or to give the child away to a single-minded pursuit of sports excellence, I would counsel them to keep their child and be parents to him. I would expect such an approach from totalitarian communism; I think the U.S. did badly in emulating their approach.

When the Lord gives the gifts of family and friends, use them for the greatest benefit, to become the best person you can be. Don't throw them away in pursuit of gold, silver, or bronze, which cannot give or receive love, say I. A person can be a great athlete without totally sacrificing his family.


Nimuae - 12-8-2008 at 08:17

You are talking about this girl as if she had been forced into the sport, Scholar.

She has not made any 'great sacrifice' in my book - she is doing exactly what she wants and enjoys doing. Her family are supporting her enjoyment of her sport and, I am sure, they are proud of her achievements - they are not abandoning her to a life of debauchery. The 'working' life of an athlete is comparatively short, she will still be able to make other choices, enjoy exploring other areas/aspects of life when the 2008 Olympiad is long forgotten. Anything she may have 'given up' temporarily will still all be there when she is ready to make another choice.

For the moment she is representing her country, which is an great honour, and a great achievement. She is doing this because it is what she wants to do, and because she is good at it. No sacrifice involved. Good Luck to her !


marymary100 - 12-8-2008 at 12:08

I agree entirely with you nimuae. I wonder if your own life choices are colouring your viewpoint scholar? Are you trying to justify your decisions when younger when you had opportunities which you turned down perhaps?


scholar - 12-8-2008 at 13:48

Quote:
Originally posted by Nimuae
You are talking about this girl as if she had been forced into the sport, Scholar.
No. I understand that, in the case of the Americans, a free choice was made.

I do have some concern that it is an uninformed choice, in the sense that a child does not know the importance and breadth of the experiences she is giving up. When she was little, was she asked if she were willing to give up playing? Give up friendships, outside of the sport? Give up having a hug or kiss from Mom and Dad when hurt or lonely?
Quote:
Anything she may have 'given up' temporarily will still all be there when she is ready to make another choice.
Really? Where will she go to get back her childhood? When she is 22 years old, will she go to a first dance set up by the school with girls who are 12? Will she go sledding with other children when she is in her 20s? Will she dress up and go trick-or-treating as an adult? Will she enjoy brushing Barbie's hair ten years later?
Quote:
No sacrifice involved.
I would not consider giving up a period of four years with my family to be "no sacrifice." I can hardly imagine anyone would, unless their family life was truly horrible.


marymary100 - 12-8-2008 at 13:56

Childhood is an invention of the middle classes. Much of Western teenage life would be better missed out. There's nothing wrong with discipline and hard work. Have you seen how Chinese children spend their time? 10 hours a day in school so the parents can work. They seem a very well adjusted, well educated nation to me.


janet - 12-8-2008 at 13:59

Basically, this is just another thread looking at someone and saying, "I'm right, they're wrong" and jugding the choices others have made.

We're lucky no one does the same to us.


scholar - 12-8-2008 at 14:04

Quote:
Originally posted by marymary100
I wonder if your own life choices are colouring your viewpoint scholar?
That is an excellent choice of expression, Marymary. Having a more complete, a more well-rounded experience in my early years gives my life color. The pallette of my life is richer, more vibrant, and has more variety because I did not choose to toss away the pallette of family and social experiences in favor of a black-and-white charcoal sketch of life, in which everything would be judged only by whether I would get more degrees at younger ages.

I am somewhat disappointed to hear no voice of agreement. Don't we have anyone here who would say, "I'm glad I grew up in my town and my schools, with my friends and family. If I'd had exceptional athletic ability and potential, I nonetheless would rather have the life I've led, and would not want to trade it for the no-family, no-friends life of someone like Kelci"?


marymary100 - 12-8-2008 at 14:05

Quote:
Originally posted by janet
Basically, this is just another thread looking at someone and saying, "I'm right, they're wrong" and jugding the choices others have made.

We're lucky no one does the same to us.



Well noone does it to me and gets away with it...


janet - 12-8-2008 at 14:21

No, it tends to be famous people, stars and atheletes and so on... where we sit around and say how wrong they are and how much better we could have done things.... though I use the "we" advisedly as I see neither value nor entertainment in such threads.


scholar - 12-8-2008 at 14:22

Quote:
Originally posted by janet
Basically, this is just another thread looking at someone and saying, "I'm right, they're wrong" and jugding the choices others have made.

We're lucky no one does the same to us.
So, Janet, you look at my posts and say to yourself, "I'm right, and he's wrong" because I express an opinion favoring good family experiences and more well-rounded, balanced development?

Does anyone see any irony here?:)


marymary100 - 12-8-2008 at 14:24

"We" seems a bit of an exaggeration Janet. ;)


LSemmens - 12-8-2008 at 14:46

As far as your assessment, Nimuae, is concerned, I have friends who have come close to the Olympics (succeeded in the Commonwealth Games) and another young friend who is showing potential as a diver, at the moment, none of them has 'suffered' by the pursuit of their dreams. They are extremely focused and appreciate the opportunities offered.


janet - 12-8-2008 at 14:47

Quote:
Originally posted by marymary100
"We" seems a bit of an exaggeration Janet. ;)


Ok - let me rephrase.

There are often threads of this kind on KF.


Quaver - 12-8-2008 at 14:54

We only have one shot in life, do what one thinks best at the time.
Scholar, you chose what you thought best, and are happy:)
I chose my path too, don't know if that was best 'till my dying day:D


Nimuae - 12-8-2008 at 15:04

Quote:
Originally posted by scholar
Quote:
Originally posted by janet
Basically, this is just another thread looking at someone and saying, "I'm right, they're wrong" and jugding the choices others have made.

We're lucky no one does the same to us.
So, Janet, you look at my posts and say to yourself, "I'm right, and he's wrong" because I express an opinion favoring good family experiences and more well-rounded, balanced development?

Does anyone see any irony here?:)


Dear Scholar - no one is saying 'I'm right, and he's wrong', just that the young girl concerned made her own free choice.

When I was younger I was a dancer - classical ballet, Indian, and Egyptian Belly dancing. To do this this with any degree of competence involved 2 hours barre practice every morning before school (work, in later years), classes 7 nights per week, and most week-ends designing/making costumes. My peers were out at the cinema/clubbing etc., but I was not envious, an certainly did not see it as a 'sacrifice'. It was my choice ergo my responsibility/commitment, and I would not have taken kindly to anyone trying to stop me. It didn't stop me appreciating my town and my friends. It did not stop me achieving a BSc, and qualifying as a Consultant.

If some one really wants something - they can achieve it.


LSemmens - 12-8-2008 at 15:11

What's good for the goose, may not, necessarily be good for the gander.

We all make our choices, and must live by them, I've yet to hear any world class atheletes (or citizens in any field) say, "If only......" or "I wish I'd......", they all seem quite happy with their choices. It seems to be only the "also rans", and the "never was" that say that. If life hands you a lemon, what do you do with it? If you can find a positive in every situation, then you are a winner, sadly, there are those who don't know how to make lemonade.


scholar - 12-8-2008 at 16:12

Quote:
Originally posted by Nimuae
Dear Scholar - no one is saying 'I'm right, and he's wrong', just that the young girl concerned made her own free choice.

When I was younger I was a dancer - classical ballet, Indian, and Egyptian Belly dancing. To do this this with any degree of competence involved 2 hours barre practice every morning before school (work, in later years), classes 7 nights per week, and most week-ends designing/making costumes. My peers were out at the cinema/clubbing etc., but I was not envious, an certainly did not see it as a 'sacrifice'. It was my choice ergo my responsibility/commitment, and I would not have taken kindly to anyone trying to stop me. It didn't stop me appreciating my town and my friends. It did not stop me achieving a BSc, and qualifying as a Consultant.

If some one really wants something - they can achieve it.
Ah, Nimuae, the values in your choice agree with mine, with those I advocate in my posts here. You pursued your dancing AND appreciated your town and your friends. Your experienced school and work, in addition to your dancing. Would I be correct in thinking you did not have to forsake your family to pursue dancing?

Kelci, on the other hand, was not given a choice to train at her own town, or to have her family with her, in addition to Olympic training. She was told that Olympic training would take place in Indianapolis, far from her home and friends. And she had to decide when she was so young.

I believe the love and presence of family members is of great value as one grows up, and it is better to train athletes with these as part of their lives. As far as I know, that has mostly been the practice in the U.S. Remember, the U.S. had good athletes with the other system, but not the very, very best. Now, we have divers who have lost those experiences with family and friends to train in isolation, just to increase scores a few points (but, as it turned out, not enough to win any medals).

I wish those thoughtfully considering this subject would hear Kelci speaking so sadly of all she had lost, grieving for it, and hoping it would prove to be worth it (this, before she competed and came in fourth, coming home empty-handed as far as medals are concerned).


marymary100 - 12-8-2008 at 16:36

Sore loser? Contrast her reaction to those who are actually winning and presumably also made sacrifices.

I suspect that American's need to reward sportsmen and women financially is the reason her family thought it worthwhile in the first place. Few families would condone their children being hothoused unless there was some significant reward or honour for the chosen one. Have you read The Glass Bead Game?


Swish Checkley - 12-8-2008 at 17:13

Her choice. No sympathy from me I'm afraid for the same reasons Nimuae, Janet and Marymary have given.


scholar - 12-8-2008 at 22:18

Quote:
Originally posted by marymary100
Sore loser? Contrast her reaction to those who are actually winning and presumably also made sacrifices.
She made her comments before the competition, so she had neither won nor lost--she had not yet performed. She did not know with certainty whether she would make a mistake, or do as well as her best practice sessions.
Quote:
I suspect that American's need to reward sportsmen and women financially is the reason her family thought it worthwhile in the first place. Few families would condone their children being hothoused unless there was some significant reward or honour for the chosen one.
I don't think synchronized divers ever do well financially. They do not get the general popular acclaim in the US that those who excell in other sports get. I can't recall the name of even one other diver.
Quote:
Have you read The Glass Bead Game?
No, I have not.

I do not say that the Olympics are not worthwhile, or that one ought not make necessary sacrifices. I object to requiring a child to make excessive, unnecessary sacrifices, when he can be trained without forsaking his home and family.


marymary100 - 12-8-2008 at 22:43

It's not your place to object though. The family and the girl chose for themselves which in the land of "freedom" sometimes means that people get it wrong but that's the whole point of freedom of choice.

As to The Glass Bead Game, I think you might enjoy it.

The central character Knecht has been consumed with mastering the Glass Bead Game since being taken away from his family as a child. The game requires a synthesis of aesthetics and scientific arts, such as mathematics, music, logic, and philosophy, which Knecht achieves in adulthood, becoming a Magister Ludi (Master of the Game). However as we follow him throughout his life we see him start to question earlier decisions. It is relevant to the question you originally posed. I'd have thought it was a "must read" tbh.


janet - 12-8-2008 at 22:49

Quote:
Originally posted by marymary100
It's not your place to object though. The family and the girl chose for themselves which in the land of "freedom" sometimes means that people get it wrong but that's the whole point of freedom of choice.


To me, this is very much of the essence of free choice.

It's not "free choice as long as I agree with it" or "free choice as long as the press thinks it's a good idea".


scholar - 12-8-2008 at 23:13

Quote:
Originally posted by janet
Quote:
Originally posted by marymary100
It's not your place to object though. The family and the girl chose for themselves which in the land of "freedom" sometimes means that people get it wrong but that's the whole point of freedom of choice.

To me, this is very much of the essence of free choice.

It's not "free choice as long as I agree with it" or "free choice as long as the press thinks it's a good idea".
In recent Olympic training, the previous free choice of training wherever one wished among many thousands of locations was withdrawn, and those who wished to compete were told, "Come to Indianapolis to train. You have no choice about it. Do it the way we have determined for you, or you will not compete."

Please explain how taking away all options but one is "the essence of free choice." Would you prefer a meal menu with only one item on it?


LSemmens - 13-8-2008 at 14:02

The choice was still there. If you chose not to log on to Karl's forums, you'd not be having this discussion. If you want this discussion, then you must log on here, there is no other option. In their case, the choice was go to Indianapolis or not. The Olympics is only held in one place, no choice. The "Land of the Free" certainly does not give much in the way of choice if there is no profit in it.


janet - 13-8-2008 at 14:07

To use "land of the free" in relation to a child's choice to train for the olympics or not, or her family's choice to allow it, is such a stretch from the original meaning of the term as to more or less render it meaningLESS.


scholar - 13-8-2008 at 14:34

My aim in initiating this thread was to speak in favor of the value of family closeness, of good friends, of the value of a well-rounded upbringing.

(I am not against freedom of choices about Olympic training. Including choices which allow family closeness and friends is greater freedom of choice.) But, again, my advocacy is for family, friends, and a well-rounded life. I am saying I think that, for many, that will prove a better choice.

Last night, I heard a remark about another diver, that one of her parents had moved to Indianapolis to be with her during her training, but the other had stayed behind at their original home (presumably to work). That has me wondering why one or both of Kelci's parents did not move to Indianapolis. The requirement to be in Indianopolis did not absolutely mean loss of parents for that period.


scholar - 13-8-2008 at 14:42

The method used in Communist China, according to the television report, is that the government selects children and takes them away from their parents WHEN THEY ARE THREE YEARS OLD.

China promotes a one-child-per-couple policy. Imagine, you are only allowed by the government to have one child, and then that child is taken away from you at age three!:(:(:(:(