Like a screaming school girl hot with Bieber fever, I too have welcomed the Olympic games with loud cheers. Not because I am a sports nut or former gymnast, but more for the pure excitement of good competition. Whether it is cheering on the underdog, hoping for a new world record, or just the edge of your seat play, I love this two-year cycle time.
This year, I have found a new love for the Olympics. Olympics through the eyes of a 6 and a 3 1/2 year old. M and E have developed Olympic fever. Thanks to Title IX, E proudly claps and focuses on all the women sports. So far her favorites to support are tennis and gymnastics. Fresh from tennis camp, yesterday she watched the Williams sisters easily defeat their opponents. E commented on why there were 2 on each side. That prompted a quick tennis lesson and a response of, “I want to play tennis too”. Her papa will be proud. At 6, M is loving the different sports and competitions. I love that he gets to watch a variety of sports and learn that there is so much out there for him to try. This summer his focus has been on swimming, so we are watching the different swimming and diving events. Exposure is the first step to being an athlete. More than that, I love the geographic lessons that the Olympics evoke. M comments when he reads USA or sees the “American flag” and then reads the opponent. This leads to conversations of “where is that” or “how far away is it?”
But more than just chants of “GO USA”, our Latvian American household enthusiastically cheers “Latvia, Latvia”. M listens and watches intently for the LAT or the Latvian flag and readies his cheer. While Latvia currently has not won a 2012 medal, there are some contenders in various sports. When the BMX events begin, we will eagerly watch Māris Štrombergs go for a Beijing gold repeat. Or maybe a medal will come home in beach volleyball. Each day we scan the tv listings for when we’ll be able to support Latvia. As the anthem goes, “Dievs, svētī Latviju” (God Bless Latvia), the homeland is important to who we are.
So tonight, with a bowl of popcorn or grapes in hand, our family will learn a little about geography, spirit of competition, and the wide world of sports. But we will learn a lot about supporting who we are, Latvian Americans. GO USA! GO LATIVA!