Women Olympians Medal as Role ModelsRosemary Lichtman, Ph.D. and Phyllis Goldberg, Ph.D.Ever since Title IX guaranteed equal funding for girls' sports programs 40 years ago,we've seen the results in school, the workplace and women's self-confidence. Studieshave shown that girls who play sports in high school are more likely to do better inscience classes, complete college, avoid substance abuse and join the workforce. And themore time they spend participating in team sports, the higher their self-esteem.Naturally, there's also an effect on the playing fields. For the first time in Olympichistory, women competed from all represented countries and there were more womenthan men on the United States team in London. We can look to them as role models forpositive traits to emulate. The strengths they've gained from years of hard work anddedication to their sport are more than just physical. They also illustrate many of thecharacter virtues identified in Positive Psychology. Consider how to integrate these intoyour own daily life.
Kami Craig, who played on the national championship USC women's waterpolo team, and Courtney Mathewson, who was on arch-rival UCLA's nationalchampionship team, put their competition behind them and worked together as friends towin gold for the USA. Your team may consist of family, friends or co-workers anddedication to the common good of that group sets the tone for everyone's improved input.
Missy Franklin, approached to make endorsements, turned them down so shecould remain an amateur and swim for her high school and future college teams. Missy isdevoted to friends in school, family and her hometown coach. After 4 golds in backstrokeand team relay and one bronze, she looked forward to getting back home and hanging outwith friends. Your own sense of responsibility to your community and the value youplace on giving back will help you remain true to your ideals.
Serena Williams is the second woman ever to complete the "Golden Slam,"taking the Olympic singles gold as well as winning at Wimbledon, the U.S. Open,Australian Open and French Open. Serena has expressed gratitude to her family for theeducation she received, and shown it by supporting educational projects in America,funding a school in Africa and mentoring aspiring athletes. You'll find that when you tooexpress gratitude your mood improves, you feel better about yourself and more connectedto the world around you.
Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings won gold in women's beachvolleyball in 2004, repeating in 2008 - the only women's team to have accomplished thatfeat. After Misty was injured and Kerri took time to have children, some wondered if they could still be on top of their game. Yet with the perspective they gained and thebalance in their lives, they won a third gold. When you're faced with difficult situationsand important questions in your own life, consider what you have learned from your pastexperiences and trust yourself to make the right decisions today.