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[Susan notes: Concern with Olympic hype for winning, where a bronze medal seems to be regarded as losing. And what 1/2 second actually means.]

Submitted to New York Times but not published
02/22/2014

To the editor

The breathless New York Times account of Mikaela Shiffrin's Olympic victory

( In Slalom, Mikaela Shiffrin Zips to Bottom and Reaches the Pinnacle) provokes admiration for her strong sense of process as well as her ability.



But as a longtime teacher I can't help look at the darker side, wondering about the message for glory wannabes. Tuition at Shiffrin's Vermont ski

school is $46,910, and since 1970 "nearly 30 Olympians have come from their school." You do the math.



The mania starts early. Weekend training is available for 7-year-olds, and the school offers a special winter term for 7th and 8th graders.



I worry about kids who are trained from an early age to pursue glory--taking off from regular school for weeks at a time to attend ski camp, tennis camp, whatever. I hope it's for love of the sport and not for obsession with winning.



Concealed in the hype of all the news accounts is the fact that 1/2 second or less separates glory from "also ran."



I am unconvinced that there is any difference in talent among those who finished first and those who finished 15th--or 30th, but I worry about what

that 1/2 second does to young lives.

Susan Ohanian


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