Listening carefully to the commentary about a certain young platform diver representing China, I pick up some language odd to my Western ear. Pausing the DVR, I ask my bride if she heard. I rewind, and listen again.
"initially, she was selected for gymnastics progam. Then, a few years later, she was switched to diving."
It was the use of the passive voice that struck me. After hearing interviews with other athletes, who speak of their personal choice, I had scoffed at the odds that people made such life-changing decisions at such young ages. Did Tiger Woods really choose his life, after all, when he appeared on television at age 3? Did the Williams sisters have a real choice?
But in this circumstances, I faulted or scoffed at over-eager parents. I hadn't fully considered the children whose State selected their life direction. My bride and I chatted briefly, lamenting the loss of individual freedoms for so many millions. A nagging voice, however, still whispered to me regarding the relative freedoms for children of stage parents here as well.
When I re-started the DVR, the hints of moral equivalence vanished.
"She was switched to diving when the program heads learned she didn't like to eat. She is 4'10 and approx 65lbs. She says she prefers being thin, and the coaches realized she was therefore better suited to diving."
So faced with possible anorexia nervosa, a stage parent would likely seek medical attention for their charge. The Chinese State, however, re-assigned Xin to a sport more suited for an underweight if troubled Chinese Girl.
These Olympics are getting harder to watch with each passing day.