Olympic Grade Athletes

Matt and I had a difference of opinion while watching the Olympic trials a few weeks ago.  (And yes, it took me this long to remember to write about it, whatever.)  There was one of those “this could be your child” commercials on and I said that I hoped none of our children ever were Olympic athletes.  I want our children to grow up to be happy, healthy, well-rounded adults and I do not think that elite athletes (I’m sure there are a few exceptions) fall into that category.  I think that to become that good at any one thing, you have to neglect the rest of your life.

Matt disagrees.  He thinks that is true about some sports, but he thinks that people like Olympic swimmers are some of the healthiest people around.  I think that Olympic swimmers likely have overuse injuries and after they retire, spend the rest of their lives nursing old injuries.  (Not to mention that I think elite athletes don’t have proper, healthy relationships/friendships and don’t get to do things like go out and have pizza with their friends.)

So, Matt believes that an elite athlete is a healthy person who (with some exceptions, but mostly in general) is well rounded.  I believe that elite athletes have overworked childhoods, end up with lifetime injuries, and after they are too old for sports, don’t really know what to do with the rest of their lives. (Again, we are both generalizing here.)

What are your opinions?  Would you love for your children to become an elite athlete? Does the extremely limited amount of children/young adults that actually succeed at that level impact your decision?  (In other words, would you want your kid to push to be an elite athlete knowing that they will likely never make it to that level?)