Age of the Olympics

Age+of+the+Olympics

In the news recently, we’ve all heard of the recent Olympics scandal surrounding Kamila Valieva, the 15 year old Russian figure skater. People have been hounding her for her usage of performance enhancing drugs in the figure skating category, and people wanting her disqualified. While I agree she should not be competing, my reasoning for this is completely separate from blaming a 15 year old girl for being pressured into drug use by her coach (who, by the way, has a confirmed history of abusing her skaters.) People should not be allowed to compete in the Olympics if they are under the age of 18.

According to the American Psychological Association, the effects of peer pressure are at their peak around 14. At 15, Valieva was in the exact spot to be incredibly susceptible to manipulation at the hands of her coach to take drugs. A majority of 15 year olds would not have access to these types of drugs, nor would they have motivation. You don’t get punished for losing the Olympics, you just don’t get the crown and return to normal life. That is, of course, with the assumption that outside factors don’t make their way into what happens after you lose. Abuse is very common in the skating world, especially among younger skaters, and losing a competition is grounds for punishment in any coach’s eyes. Valieva was not running from shame, but from abuse. None of this was her fault, but the fault of her abusive coach, Eteri Tutberidze.

When kids are able to join the Olympics before 18, the abusive training starts at a very young age. There is motivation to mold these kids into the perfect athlete, and the perfect athlete cannot be achieved without breaking them down emotionally and physically. For context, it is often considered ‘too late’ to start figure skating past 13 for example. This is absolutely insane. At 13 you are still a child, barely starting puberty. Forcing these kids to tear their body apart for the possibility of receiving a gold medal is deranged and cruel.

Children deserve time to grow and be kids. They should not be dedicating their lives to a shot at a gold medal in middle school. If a child wishes to play a sport at a younger age, that’s completely fine, but this should never be something for anything other than the kid to enjoy. Competition is fine if it’s for kids their age, but a child should absolutely never, under any circumstances, be competing with grown adults. If a child is competing at the same level as a grown adult, there is a problem with the coach running the child ragged to a point where their body will break down by the time they reach 18.

Kids deserve to be kids. A 15 year old competing in the Olympics is cruel, and puts far too much pressure on the child to compete at the same level as an adult competitor, which is simply not possible without abusive training techniques. With this all, I believe the age someone should be allowed to compete at should be set at 18 to relieve kids of the pressures of competing on an international stage.