6 Ways to Make Olympic Viewing a Family Bonding Event


The Olympics are different than any other sporting event – and in my very strong opinion, they are much more special. Only held every four years, there is no “maybe next year” attitude. The athletes who compete in the Olympics have been working toward this goal and this moment for many years, decades, and in some cases – their lifetime.

There is no other sporting event that brings together such a wide variety of athletics and competitors. You don’t have to look far to find an athlete from a country that you know very little or nothing about. In fact, you probably don’t have to look very far to find a sport that you may have never even realized is in the Olympics (*ahem* there’s a full list at the bottom of this page). Excuse me while I Google “hammer throw”…

6 Ways to Make the Olympics a Family Event

1. Plan Family Olympic Party Nights

Plan a few nights with your family, and add some pizza or popcorn to make it special. This is better if you look at the Olympic schedule in advance and choose a few events that are particularly interesting.

2. Choose a Few Athletes to Watch

With a few quick Google searches, you can transform your Olympic-watching experience. It’s way more fun to watch your home football team in the Superbowl than it is to watch two unfamiliar teams, so you’ll enjoy the experience more if you find a few athletes to watch throughout the games.

Search for Olympic athletes who are near you, or went to your college, or even share similar beliefs – you’ll find it particularly easy to root for them. For example, Yul Moldauer, a member of the US men’s gymnastics team, won many awards for OU gymnastics.

3. Watch at Least One Sport You’ve Never Watched Before

As a former competitive gymnast, I’ve always treated the Olympics like my own personal Superbowl. Every gymnastics event is on my calendar and has basically been penciled in since 2016. However, watching other, new-to-me events is one of my favorite parts of watching the Olympics.

For example, a few months ago I watched two nights of the pole vaulting Olympic trials because a childhood friend was competing (yeah, it was awesome, and I bragged about that to everyone I know). It was absolutely fascinating. I was frantically Googling new things while watching, and I learned so much about a brand new sport. We even got to witness a new American record! This is a perfect, easy, and FUN way to learn new things as a family.

4. Pay Attention to Different Countries Being Represented

Admittedly, I’m not the most cultured person you’ll meet, but there are often countries competing at the Games that I haven’t even heard of. Regardless, how often do you get to watch athletes from Iceland, Tonga, Kazakhstan, or Morocco?!

This could easily become a family activity; just have each member of the family pick one country from the event you’re watching and do a Google search. Find out five new things about each country, and you’ve basically just created a perfect lesson on geography and world cultures.

5. Talk about Sacrifice and Hard Work

Our kids are growing up in a world of instant gratification. You can make a pizza in 20 minutes and learn about a new topic with a click of a few buttons (how many times have I already mentioned Google searches in this article?!). The art of patience, hard work,  sacrifice, and dedication is something that we have to intentionally teach.

And if you look closely at ANY ONE of the competitor’s journey to the Olympics, you’ll find years and possibly a lifetime of dedication, discipline, and sacrifice pointed towards this moment. You’ll probably also find significant injuries, surgeries, and heartbreaking setbacks.

I don’t think you will have a better opportunity to open this line of communication with your kids. Just by learning about some of the competitors and some of the other cultures, you’ll see this common thread. Talk to your kids about how much is possible when you’re willing to be consistent, put in the work, and overcome barriers.

6. Challenge Your Family

When you’re familiar with a sport, you can appreciate the magnitude of the athleticism even more. While you can’t become an expert on gymnastics or surfing overnight, you can gain a new appreciation for the sport by trying it.

Of course, you’ll need to be safe (don’t go throwing yourself off of a six-foot-high balance beam, please!), but you can either take the family to a gym near you or create some obstacles in your backyard. Just by trying a small piece of the sports you watch on TV, you’ll realize the true extent of the skill being shown in these Olympic games. Plus, you’ll probably spend some good quality time laughing at your family’s wipeouts. 🙂

How to Watch the 2020 Summer Olympics

There are a few ways to watch the 2020 Olympics:

  • Live TV: Most of the biggest events (like women’s gymnastics team finals) will be aired on NBC. However, this won’t include many of the more unique sports.
  • Cable: If you are one of the few people left who has cable, you’re probably all set with NBC and /or the Olympic Channel.
  • Peacock: NBC’s streaming service is only $4.99 per month, and includes live shows and select replays. You can download this app for free and see many of the highlights.
  • Hulu + live: For around $65 per month, Hulu’s live service will allow you to stream Olympic events.

Be sure to check NBC Olympics.com for more information and details.

All the Sports Happening During the 2020 Summer Olympics (New and Old)

Every Olympic games since 1896 have held five events; “athletics” (track and field), cycling, fencing, gymnastics and swimming. But now, well over 100 years later, there are many more fascinating events to watch. This year there are also 5 new events being added – so any family can find a few interesting events to watch!

  • Swimming + synchronized swimming
  • Archery
  • Badminton
  • Baseball and Softball (NEW!)
  • Basketball
  • Boxing
  • Canoe/Kayak
  • Cycling: includes Track, Road, Mountain Bike and BMX
  • Diving
  • Equestrian
  • Fencing
  • Soccer (or football)
  • Golf
  • Artistic Gymnastics (the one with Simone Biles 😉)
  • Rhythmic Gymnastics
  • Handball
  • Hockey
  • Judo
  • Karate (NEW!)
  • Modern Pentathlon
  • Rowing
  • Rugby
  • Sailing
  • Shooting
  • Skateboarding (NEW!)
  • Sport Climbing (NEW!)
  • Surfing (NEW!)
  • Table Tennis/ping pong
  • Taekwondo
  • Tennis
  • Track & Field, which includes:
    • Sprints and sprint relays
    • Hurdles
    • Middle and long distance runs
    • Steeplechase
    • Walks
    • Marathon
    • High jump
    • Long jump
    • Triple jump
    • Pole vault
    • Javelin
    • Discus
    • Shot put
    • Hammer throw
    • Decathlon
    • Heptathlon
  • Trampoline
  • Triathlon
  • Volleyball: indoor and beach volleyball
  • Water polo
  • Weightlifting
  • Wrestling



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