Austin YMCA Sees Olympic Sports Spike
The Austin YMCA has seen a spike in enrollment in classes like swimming and gymnastics at each of its area gyms, and the reason why is nearly 5,000 miles away at the 2012 London Olympics.
“There is a direct response that we see from people watching the Olympics, getting psyched up about it, particularly kids who want to get into swimming, get into gymnastics,” said Sean Doles with YMCA Austin. “And those folks will often turn to the Y for that sort of instruction.”
And that drive to be the next Olympic medalist doesn’t end when the games do. Doles says enrollment definitely plateaus once the games end, however the interest often carries through into the next season.
Others aren’t as quick to agree. John Hoberman, a professor with University of Texas at Austin, has studied sports over the last 30 years and doesn’t think the Olympic games have a lasting influence at all.
“There must be some sort of emulative behavior of that kind,” Hoberman said, “but to the best of my knowledge this is not really a significant phenomenon and this is not an effect the Olympic Games has on the way we Americans behave.”
Hoberman says that the effect the games has on American culture is minimal, and that once the closing ceremony ends, Americans will forget about the Olympics until the next games in 2014. But that doesn’t mean the games can’t light a competitive spark in children watching the games.
“For many kids it lights the fire that stays with them for years and years,” Doles said.
The 2012 London Olympic Games continue through Aug. 12.