From the Sidelines

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 13, 2000

MICHAEL KIRAL / L’Observateur / May 13, 2000

In the ancient Olympic Games in Greece, there is a legend that a mother dressed up as a man in order to see her son perform. At the time, womenwere not allowed to attend the Games with the penalty for the violation of this law often being death.

It probably wasn’t the first time that a mother risked everything for her athletic child. It certainly wasn’t the last.Later this year, we will once again be celebrating an Olympic Games. And likethose first Olympics millennia ago, there will be mothers who have made sacrifices in order for their children to realize their Olympic dreams.

Maybe it was driving the athlete to practice everyday, no matter how early or late the hour. Or watching them train through all conditions. Maybe it wasthe given up of resources so that their children could receive the best training possible. Whatever the sacrifice, those mothers are also deservingof a gold medal for their efforts.

On second thought, gold is not a valuable enough metal to properly reward them. No valuable on earth is.I’m willing to bet that if a poll was taken of all athletes, they would say that they would not be where they are without the support of their mothers. Forit was them that stood watching them in the rain, in the cold and in the heat.

It was them that mended their wounds, both physical and mental. They arethe first ones to cheer in victories and the first ones to offer support in defeat.

Mothers throughout the years have offered to serve as chauffeurs, chaperons, doctors, psychiatrists, seamstresses, chefs, ticket takers, concession workers and statisticians for their children and their teams. Andthey do that without asking for a single dime. They do it out of love.Most athletes recognizes the sacrifices their mothers have made for them.

Listen to any acceptance speech at any awards ceremony and among the first people they thank are their mothers. Forget agents or promoters, theyknow who their real supporters are.

When he signed to play football with LSU this past February, West St. Johnreceiver Donriel Louis didn’t say that his goal was to lead the SEC in receiving or to make it to the NFL. No, his goal was to make his mother proud, sayingthat it was her that kept him going in the right direction growing up.

Many an athlete would echo Louis’ words. And that is why tomorrow whenthey wake up and began to prepare to play or practice on Mother’s Day, many an athlete’s first thought will be on what their mothers had to do to get them to that point.

So as we follow sports now and the Games in Sydney this summer, let’s look past the medals and the records and take a look at those who made it all possible. Olympic dreams don’t occur overnight. They are years in themaking.

Yes, the Olympics only come around every two years and last for two weeks.

But mothers give an Olympic effort every day.

Happy Mother’s Day, mom, and thanks.

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