Picabo Street on Raising Good Sports

Featured Article, Growth and Development, Sports and Activities
CREDIT: Liberty Mutual Insurance Olympic gold medalist Picabo Street

As an Olympic gold medalist and the mother of four active boys (ages 3, 4, 9 and 10), Picabo Street is no stranger to competitive sports and the lessons they teach children about teamwork, leadership and sportsmanship.

Street was only 17 when she joined the U.S. ski team, and she quickly became known for both her athletic prowess and her ability to overcome adversity. Just weeks before competing in the 1998 Olympic Games in Nagano, Japan, Street suffered a devastating crash on a training run that left her with headaches and neck pain. Yet despite her injuries, Street went on to win Olympic gold in the super giant slalom (Super G).  She retired from competitive skiing after the 2002 Olympics.

Today, Street, 42, is attending the Sochi Olympics in Russia as an analyst for FOX Sports. She was also recently named spokesperson for the Liberty Mutual Insurance Sports Initiative.  With the Olympics set to begin on February 7, we asked Street to share her perspectives on motherhood and what she wants children—and their parents—to know about organized sports.

DailyParent: What message do you hope to convey to families through your campaign with Liberty Mutual?

Picabo Street: We want to celebrate some of the young athletes moments of selflessness in youth sports, such as a Peewee football team that took a stand against bullying. Competitiveness in youth sports is important, but it needs to be healthy competition, which includes learning as much from losses as from wins. Youth sports need to promote safety, skill building and fun in order for them to be a positive experience for children.

Unfortunately, and I’ve seen this at my own children’s sporting events, some parents act inappropriately. They have unreasonable expectations about winning, and they stand on the sidelines yelling at their children and the refs. You can’t bully someone into being successful, and this kind of behavior only takes the fun out of children’s sports and puts stress on the kids.

DP: What sports do your boys participate in?

PS: They like tae kwon do, baseball and soccer, and skiing in the winter. They are also very musical. My mom plays 26 different instruments, and my husband’s side of the family is also very musical. Music is a big part of our family—all of our boys are learning to play the piano and can feel the beat of music.

DP: How do you balance your professional and personal lives?

PS: When I’m traveling, I keep in touch with the boys through Skype, and when I’m home, we place a big emphasis on spending time together as a family. We have dinner together every night and enjoy doing sports such as skiing or biking as a family.

DP: What sort of fitness-oriented activities do you recommend that families do together?

PS: I think any activity where you’re outdoors and getting exercise and spending time together is good. When my boys were younger they would love playing “Simon Says” and being told “Simon says jump up and down on one leg” or whatever the command was to get them moving (and laughing).

DP: What’s your favorite part of being a mom?

PS: I enjoy the opportunity to experience things through my sons’ eyes.  It’s fun to watch your little one’s reaction after sipping ice water for the first time, or listening to music through headphones, or riding forwards in a car. As a parent, I realize how quickly time passes, and I try to savor even these little moments in my boys’ lives. 

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