President, US Olympians
Former Triple Jump World Record Holder from 1985-1995; Three-time Olympian 1980, 84 & 88
Adam and Eve were talking with God when they mentioned that they did not see God often enough, and were prone to fits of loneliness and self doubt, “It is difficult to remember how much you love us when we cannot see you,” they said.
“No problem,” God replied, “I shall make you a companion that obeys your every wish and showers you with constant affection.”
And Dog lived with Adam and Eve and loved them, obeyed them and showered them with constant affection and they were comforted. And God was pleased. And Dog was content and wagged his tail.
After a while, an Angel came and said, “Lord, with Dog’s steadfast devotion and affection, Adam and Eve have become filled with pride. They strut and preen like peacocks and they believe they are entitled to feel special and worthy of adoration. Dog has indeed taught them that they are loved, but perhaps too well.”
And God said, “No problem! I will create for them a companion who will be with them forever and who will see them and treat them as they are. This companion will seek to be served, will be aloof and remind them of their limitations and they will know that they are not always worthy of adoration.”
And God created Cat to be a companion to Adam and Eve. And Cat would not obey them, but often asked to be served food and affection. And when Adam and Eve gazed into Cat’s eyes, they were reminded that they were not the supreme beings. And Adam and Eve learned humility, and they were greatly improved. God was pleased, and Dog was happy, and Cat didn’t really give a care one-way or the other.
Recently, I pondered the question of what kind of Olympian am I? Has my pride in my Olympic accomplishments made me arrogant and self centered? I enjoy being looked up to, but have I begun to expect it? Do I need a larger cause (or cat) in my life? Not every Olympian is satisfied with being honored. Some use that honor to assist others.
Last month, I joined Carl Lewis (1984-96 T&F, 11 medals) on a visit to Washington DC to urge our government leaders to continue their support of a little known scholarship program that helps Olympians and Olympic hopefuls complete their education while at the same time, continue their training for membership on future Olympic teams. For over 8 years, under the leadership of Minnesota Congressman Bart Stupak, the US Office of Management and Budget has provided one million dollars of scholarship assistance annually to help athletes who live at any of the USOC Training Centers. With the economy in such dire straits, the scholarship program is now being reviewed.
On very short notice, Carl Lewis and I made a trip to Washington to elicit additional support for this most worthwhile program. In spite of a crushing head cold, Carl made time in his very busy schedule to walk the halls of power in Congress and the White House meeting and greeting a wide number of legislators. I watched as Carl used his fame and athletic credentials to open doors for generations of future Olympians. Carl Lewis is a real class act.
I am also grateful to Olympic swimmer Gary Hall (1968-76) for his admonishment to be more proactive with the World Fit program that we have been developing as a national effort for Olympians to support physical fitness in the schools.
Thanks to “cats” like Gary and Carl, I realized that it is not enough to carry the title President of the US Olympians and delegate responsibilities to others. I now understand that I need to roll up my sleeves and start working to get things moving. I don’t want to be just a dog owner resting on my laurels. Perhaps I need a cat (or two) to remind me of my shortcomings. I think my wife would agree!