Almanac Olympics – Respect: through the eyes of girls

We’re home on a cold Saturday morning. The dog days of winter. And the Rio Olympics are opening. For months, clickbait news sites have trumpeted failures of the Rio organisers. We hear of crime and sewage. Zika virus and alleged corruption. People puzzlingly declaring that they will not attend.

These same storms blow up in these same tea cups every four years. Sure, to paraphrase a popular saying: problems happen. But we can all act to fix them, rather than gleefully celebrating them. Or mocking those responsible.

To young children though, the moment is the thing. (Cynicism is still a few years off, and hopefully then it is judiciously placed.) Children and athletes, both, are interested only in the moment. Not what came before, not who got paid, not the petty trivialities of existence, but the moment.
“Look Dad, the race is about to start.”

The opening ceremony of Olympic Games has become a major world event. And while I happily ignore the wilfully false advertising of Channel 7 (“ceremony coverage from 6am”) and sleep in, I am surprised when I turn on the TV at 8:30am to find a countdown clock suggesting there are still 30 minutes remaining until the event begins.

We gather in the loungeroom. We gather and remember our circumstances four years ago. We remember friends and family happenings around London 2012. Olympic Games as reference points; milestones.

By 9:30am, the opening of the opening is done, and I drove our girls to Saturday morning basketball. A recent addition to our lives, Saturday basketball has sometimes been greeted with enthusiasm, othertimes not at all (“you can’t make me go.”) But importantly, we have found a way to turn up each week, and the Buds are gaining confidence each week.

Back home by 11:30am, the procession of nations is up to Venezuela (disappointingly we miss oiled up Tonga). And so we sit and watch; we chat; we marvel at the scale of it all. At the speeches, at the flame, at the Latin music, costumes and dance.

We catch snippets of competition over the weekend. Wondering, speculating. On Monday I break with custom by turning on the TV before school (“Dad, you’re not allowed to watch TV before school’). And introduce the “Olympic games clause,” adding it to the existing “Major sporting event in another time zone” clause. While they make their brekky, the Buds note that now screening is women’s basketball. Australian women are playing basketball. At the Olympic games.
“Dad, look. They’re playing basketball.”
“Dad, the women are playing basketball.”

And they hurriedly fill bowls with cereal and milk (“whoops”), and carry them (“careful!”) to the loungeroom.
“Dad, she got the rebound.”
“Dad, did you see that pass? Every pass is good.”
“Oops. Not that one.”
“Oooh, good shot.”

Later, women are racing in the pool, being interviewed afterwards. And now we see the women’s hockey team. “Look, Dad.”

Wonderfully, during the two weeks of Olympic Games coverage, male and female athletes are treated with similar coverage. It’s probably the only time that this happens. And it’s a powerful thing for young girls. Girls who, relatively, are denied access to sporting role models via mainstream media.

Watching, doing, watching, doing. The importance of role modelling, of planting the seed of a dream, of showing possibilities, is obvious.

We will enjoy these Olympic Games. When you’re next watching, try watching through the eyes of a young girl.


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About David Wilson

David Wilson is a writer, editor, flood forecaster and former school teacher. He writes under the name “E.regnans” at The Footy Almanac and has stories in several books. One of his stories was judged as a finalist in the Tasmanian Writers’ Prize 2021. He is married and has two daughters and the four of them all live together with their dog, Pip. He finds playing the guitar a little tricky, but seems to have found a kindred instrument with the ukulele. Favourite tree: Eucalyptus regnans.


  1. yes, it’s extraordinary. before the ceremony, i made the 8+1/2 watch Cathy in sydney – flame, then her race – I was balling my eyes out. As you say, for the memories, the passge of time, in pride. (she was less interested in Betty and Dawn and Shirley etc than me – I was balling my eyes out watching them, too, I think it was because they typified my mum’s generation to me – she swam against Lorraine Crapp etc).

    we then watch the Matildas, the basketball. we taped the 4x100m relay and whooped, she doubted but my confidence was supreme. we were sad about the Hockeyroos but, hey, we ‘re not really a hockey house, and she picked up onthe soccer similarities very quickly to unpick the first GB goal (it was a bloody beauty it has to be said).

    she is very looking forward to watching Bolt and Allyson Felix. while she is a very strong swimmer, she runs like the wind. and for her, they’re not male or female, or African-American/West Indian – they are just fast, and that’s all that matters. how awesome is that?

    we have the same no-TV exemptions as you. and that is how it should be. they are at achool 200+ days a year for 13 years. …

    I hope this is the stuff of memories. and that she will sit in her lunchtime typing when she is 51, tears in her eyes, remembering the day… the way I do as I vaguely remember Wenden on the radio, or at least remembering remembering it. Spitz and Shane Gould, clear as day. (Marsh sweeping Norman Gifford. Froggy Thompson. etc etc etc)

    If not, it’s just nice to spend time with her, to have someone to watch it with.

    lastly, your choice of song is prescient – we have been teaching her the power of the playlist, and her most recent one, just burnt on Sunday night, kicks off with that very same tune. It’s a small, small world!

    (i have given up on wishing away the jingo, the ABC morning people just as inanely bad as the rest. i’m just gonna block it out.)

  2. Gold, Gold, Gold – for the Buds.
    I hadn’t thought about it, but other than tennis this is about the only major sporting event where women get equal billing. I reckon that next weekend there will be a lot of wealthy male golfers regretting their short sightedness as Lydia, Minjee and co (koh?) take centre stage in Rio. More power to them.

  3. E.regnans says

    Love it P Warrington.
    The stuff of memories.
    Bit by bit.
    There’s wall-to-wall cynicism around the Games – often well-placed, but if we look only at the contest, at the moment, everything is much simpler.

    Yep PB. And even the tennis is a best of 3 versus best of 5 lop-sided scenario.
    “Why dad?”

    Carn the athletes. All of them. Carn humility. Carn struggle.

  4. Superb OBP you made me think ( don’t so many almanac articles) spot on re women’s sport and role models with the success of the women’s big bash hopefully more networks see the value and follow the lead and with the women’s afl comp coming may be the wheel is turning ( go the buds)

  5. Cheers OBP.
    Yep – the Women’s Rugby 7s was a good example yesterday.
    In non-Olympic life, not many would bother with (watching, showing, describing) a game of Women’s Rugby 7s.
    But there it was. Front and centre.
    Fit, strong young women having a go.
    Well done those women.

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