Should the 2012 Olympics be a wake up call for young people in Australia?

Looking through the newspapers on the weekend highlighted that many sport commentators are questioning the condition of the Australian Olympic team.  But it was the comments about the “Gen Y” training style from Eddie McQuire, Shane Gould and Suzie O’Neil that drew my attention.  Their thoughts about the swim team that indicated that the tough training schedule of previous generations had been relaxed to suit the Gen Y culture.  There were several other writers who commented about how distracting it was for athletes to engagement with Social Networking.  At least from the number of medals won it hasn’t paid off.

It seems that many of the successful countries in these Olympics have not given in to “Gen Y culture” in their training techniques.  Whilst many people question the “medal factories” in China, countries like Great Britain and the USA still demand a lot from their athletes even if they are Gen Y.  There are even some commentators who point out that Australia Gen Y athletes have only grown up in  the super investment period leading up to the Sydney Olympics.  The reality is that the funding is drying up or at least slowed down in many sports.  Whilst the Australian athletes are doing their very best, there isn’t a Gold medal for everyone at the Olympics.

Whilst the articles in the weekend paper were focused on sport, the reality is that the globally trend of young people having the pick of jobs is over.  In his book “Generation Y” Peter Sheahan believed that Gen Y had forever changed the corporate culture, yet the bubble may have burst due to the economic downturn.  In many countries, perhaps except Australia, youth unemployment has gone back to  at least 20%-30% which means young people can’t be as picky with where they work.  Young people are again having to take work where and when they can get it rather than choosing where they feel like working.    The dominance bubble that Gen Y and Youth Culture have had over the past 10 years may burst with the reality of economic crisis.

The wake up call is out there for young people, particularly in Australia, now that the choices are shrinking.  In the economic boom Gen Y were able to buy everything they wanted, travel where ever they wanted and work where ever they wanted.  During the sporting life of Gen Y Olympians there has been a boost in funding ever since 1996 in the lead up to Sydney 2000.  Talk to a Gen Y Australian and they will tell you about where they want to work and what they want to do with their life.  Talk to a Gen Y from Ireland, Greece, Portugal or Spain and they are just trying to find a job.   My own hope is that it should be a balance of young people having options and young people having to earn their way to the top rather than have it handed to them.

This is not meant to be a beat up on our Olympic team or on young people in general.  It just seems from observing the media on the weekend the landscape that young people are facing globally has changed and our young people have been sheltered from it because our economy is doing so well.  It also seems that whilst young people may be natives in the technology landscape they are unaware of how distracting social networking can be to achieving in life.  It seems that there are some important lessons for young people to learn from the experience of Gen Y athletes at these 2012 Olympic games.

What are your thoughts?  Please share a comment below.

Mark of Faith, markoffaith, MarkofFaith

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