Olympics / Parenting Blog

OWTK’s Guide to Watching the Winter Olympics with Kids

I’ve had a roller coaster love affair with The Olympics.

As a child, I adored the games, both summer and winter.  This is back when they were on the same schedule every 4 years.  Back when every U.S. athlete participating was an amateur, and back when NBC tried to make the games viewable through some convoluted pay per view structure (fail).  And then the pro athletes started to get involved, corporate sponsorships seemed to take centerstage and scandals grabbed the headlines.  Admittedly, not much has changed save for alternating the Summer/Winter Games every 2 years and NBC making the Olympics watchable for free on their multiple TV networks and websites.  In 2010, professional hockey players will once again wear their countries colors, corporate logos will be as prominent as the famous Olympic rings and you just know that we’re never that far removed or away from a drug bust (although, to be fair to the Winter Games, it seems the Summer’s track & field and weightlifting sports are the sketchiest).

Regardless, I’ve fallen in love with the Olympics again, especially the Winter Games, and I’m sharing my excitement with my 2 young daughters.

Despite the horrid time difference, the Bear (then 4-years old) caught Summer Olympic fever 2 years ago.  Like the rest of America, she too cheered for Michael Phelps, Shawn Johnson and the rest of the U.S. gymnastics team in Beijing.   She stayed up way too late trying catch as much action as possible in ’08 and is prepared, along with her little sister, to do the same starting this weekend.  The torch will be lit in Vancouver, BC in just a few more days thus ushering in the start of the 2010 Winter Olympics, and we’ve all got the fever.

The 2010 Winter Olympic Games will be a blast to watch with kids, and here’s why:

  • Vancouver is a beautiful city, one that is in North America – meaning live action for just about everything!
  • Competing for the flag on the front, not the name on the back – to paraphrase a sports saying.  The Olympics provide a unique opportunity for kids to see televised national pride.  No me first attitude, no filling up the stat sheet before the next contract negotiations – just the desire to win a medal for your country and stand on the pedestal as your national anthem plays for the world to hear.  Yeah, I’m romanticizing just a little bit, but for young kids the Olympic games can still be this pure.
  • Men’s Ice Hockey – will Sidney Crosby and Team Canada hold serve on their home turf ice, in their national sport? The hockey matches will be riveting, excellent television – even for non-puckheads.  Can Team USA deliver another Miracle on Ice 30 years later?  Highly unlikely, but with ex-MSU Spartan Ryan Miller in net, the U.S. has a fighter’s chance. Bonus: the Swedish uniforms rule.
  • Ski Jumping – every Wii Fit owner has had a taste of ski jumping since the last Winter Games.  Surely, kids too have had their fun lifting their heels off the balance board and soaring through the sky (or tumbling down in a heap, whichever).  Now, we’ll be reminded just how amazing and scary this high flying sport actually is (for reals!)
  • Luge/Bobsleigh/Skeleton – super fast, glorified sledding inside huge waterslide tubes!  What kid isn’t going to wanna watch that?
  • Speed Skating – the over-sized skates, the colorful skin-tight outfits, the skater’s fingers gently glancing the ice as they round the curves.  Awesome!
  • Curling – okay, maybe kids will find shuffleboard-on-ice boring but I think it’s kinda mesmerizing, in a Teletubbies kinda way.  Plus, the curling crowds could be raucous this time around as next to Hockey, this sport might be Canada’s favorite.

The Opening Ceremony is this Friday night, February 12th 2010.  We’ll be watching, will you?

Schedule your family’s TV time accordingly for the next few weeks (I nabbed a handy dandy Olympic TV schedule widget for my iGoogle page)

Visit the official site of the Vancouver Games.

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