The Beijing Olympics opened with spectacular ceremonies including many beautiful children smiling away as they danced and posed.  Why so many children?  Because China with its world stage wants to shift attention away from its one-child per family policy to its new policy of encouraging three children.   But I raise the issue not to discuss China’s many human rights violations but rather to point to those beautiful smiling children launching the 2022 Olympics.

I love the Olympics, from beginning to end.  The combination of sheer talent, grit, and excellence hold me spellbound whether it’s the Summer or Winter Olympics.  Unfortunately, we know that too many happy, healthy children enter the elite athlete system, but are harmed by the time they exit, often before they have achieved their full potential.  Our Game Over Commission Report on the systemic failures that empowered Larry Nassar to abuse hundreds of girls includes the graphic above, which shows the happy kid entering the system, the many systems that failed them, and then the broken athlete leaving after traversing so many challenges, which were there because the system needs ground-up and top-down reform.

Let us work toward a sports world where kids enter for the joy of it and then the system does not pile on emotional, physical, and sexual abuse along the way.  A world where the system protects their well-being so that they can focus and thrive to achieve inspiring feats of strength, beauty, and transcendence.  Let’s make it possible for our super-talented kids and young adults to focus on their talents — without having to at the same time nurse their pain in private as so many athletes have from gymnastics to swimming to figure skating, and so many more.  It’s time to put our athletes first in the Olympic system.  Join us as we fight for them.  Read the recommendations here.

Now it’s time to honor their extraordinary achievements, sit back, and marvel.