After the Glory
I wrote a paper for a college assignment titled, “The Chosen Ones”, about the athletes selected by NBC to profile before and Olympic Games. It’s a beautiful moment in life for a select few. Although, a crazy and wild one year and seventeen days, might be more accurate. I don’t think that any who are chosen would ever say they would change that circumstance but it is quite a responsibility.
The Closing Ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games were a short seven days ago but the hype and the lead up to these amazing moments have been tugging at our heart strings since last year. To give you an idea of the intense impact of "the Olympic moment", Chloe Kim’s twitter followers went from around 15K before gold to 337K at the time I wrote this. She is 17 years-old and seems very aware of the magnitude of her moment (as she graces the cover of both SI and ESPN The Magazine) and, possibly, how ridiculous it all is as well.
These amazing athletes who delivered as expected or surprised the world, are now heroes that are riding the incredibly high time of life. Most have agents who are fielding a ridiculous number of calls requesting appearances, autograph signings or speeches, several are being stopped on the street by strangers who feel like they know them well enough for a hug and a few will sign big contracts for endorsements although, for the most part, all of the big contracts took place before the games. But, a few very lucky athletes went straight back to competition. Lucky, because a competition schedule is grounding. And grounding is what they need. It is important to be able to refocus right away on the next task at hand, the tangibles.
The grounding helps as the Olympic flame fades, and it does fade. You know that saying, what comes up must come down…and that includes the high points after an Olympic Games. I am not saying rock bottom kind of “down”, but back to a normal down which can feel dramatic. Three months from now, I challenge you to name the American gold medalists from the 2018 Winter Olympic Games. What I am writing is not ground breaking but it is worth talking about because I care about these athletes. I want them to know that and I want them to know that the ups and downs they are feeling are completely normal; the “Post-Olympic Blues”.
I used to describe it similarly to the morning after your most epic Christmas, maybe when you were 10 years old. Remember that moment when you realized you had to wait 364 days for the next Christmas morning, the best morning of your life, and it felt like an eternity. It’s nearly impossible to look forward to something that far in the distance. It compounds the situation and feelings because Christmas day is such a rush with so much excitement and the next morning is “just normal”. Just normal can be scary to a hyper focused Olympic athlete.
So, how do we help them? Recognize it. Talk about it. Let them know that if they are feeling it, it’s ok. Be there for them as their foundation and grounding and if they need it and if you can, offer them a job. It is truly only the top 1% or so of these amazing athletes that currently makes a living through their sport. It is tough to focus on an Olympic dream and a career at the same time, although some have been successful doing both. Many have come back to normal life and have resumed their “day job”.
If you are in a position to mentor or hire these amazing heroes, you should jump at the chance. There are several statistics out there to prove why athletes make great employees but mostly you should do it because they just represented, with their heart and soul, our country and we should support them.
Thank you for reading. Thank you for understanding.
We have many amazing past Olympians who are helping others, like John Naber who is the President of OORF (Olympians helping Olympians Relief Fund).
And here is a recent article that you may find interesting.