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The “True Spirit” of the Olympics Lives in Vermont

Norwich, a little town in Vermont, has managed to put 11 people on Olympic teams. This town prides itself on hands-off parenting and making sure children are enjoying themselves. NORWICH by New York Times reporter Karen Crouse, is full of stories from Olympians who were able to have a balanced and fulfilling childhood. Find out how the town did it below with an excerpt from the book’s Prologue and a video interview with Karen.

Norwich restored my flagging faith in Olympic sports. By 2014, as I muddled through the mess that was the Sochi Olympics, with its displaced citizenry, disappearing dogs, dilapidated accommodations, and distressing price tag, my emotional tether to the competition was fraying. It was my ninth trip to the Olympics—tenth if you count the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles, where I volunteered as a hostess—and it was hard not to feel as if I was witnessing a grande dame’s last, gasping breaths. The Sochi Olympics rolled up a record tab of $51 billion and required a large army of police to secure. Russia gave the world an Olympics characterized by human-rights violations and a systemic doping program by the host country. The Games were also marred by a handful of serious injuries to participants who were encouraged to take on ever-higher degrees of risk for the entertainment of the viewers.

Where were the Olympians who were in it for the joy? [Freestyle skier and Norwich athlete] Hannah Kearney’s remark about [there being something in] the well water wasn’t so far off. Norwich does have an old-fashioned tonic to cure what ails contemporary sports. Like their farmer forebears with their crops, the parents of Norwich learned through trial and error the best methods of nourishing happy athletes; by valuing participation and sportsmanship, and stressing fun, community, and self- improvement. [My book Norwich] is the story of how they did it.

Watch the games with a big cup of hot cocoa.

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