Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Amateurs and the Olympics ... Missy's Story

Here's a great story to help start the day.

Missy Takes the Gold, subtitled 'A high school swimmer with the right priorities.' makes me feel good. I hope it does the same for you:

"Among the most compelling champions of the London Olympics so far is 17-year-old Missy Franklin, who won a gold medal Monday in the 100-meter backstroke. She may win a few more before she returns to Colorado for her senior year in high school. But don't expect to see her on a Wheaties box anytime soon.

Ms. Franklin is something of a curiosity in her sport because she has resisted lucrative endorsement deals in order to maintain her amateur status. "I really, really want to swim in college," she told the Journal earlier this year.

An economist might question her judgment, but Americans will likely be encouraged that in our texting, tweeting era of instantaneity, there is still a teenager somewhere who believes in deferred gratification. And even if the Supreme Court still doesn't understand it, one virtue of a truly free market is the freedom not to participate in it.

Americans may also take note of her parents' decision not to uproot their daughter to place her in one of the nation's top swimming programs in California, Florida or Texas. Instead, Ms. Franklin still has the same coach who gave her lessons when she was seven years old. Parents wrestling with a youth sports culture that seems to treat every Little League contest as a World Series game might conclude that, sometimes, less is more.

All Americans, especially those struggling to find their places in a sputtering economy, might also find inspiration in the tale of Ms. Franklin's coach Todd Schmitz. Mr. Schmitz owned a lawn-mowing business and then tried a brief corporate career before taking a stab at coaching. On his first day as a full-time swimming coach, young Missy showed up at his pool.

A decade of no doubt very grueling work later, the Franklin-Schmitz collaboration is a reminder of the Olympics's amateur roots and why we still watch the games. "

Have a great day. Bob.

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