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DICK'S Sporting Goods

The year was 1904, and it was the United States’ first time hosting the Olympic Games.

This should have been an exciting moment, but America’s inaugural games in St. Louis were actually kind of a mess.

St. Louis wasn’t even supposed to be the host city of the games — Chicago was.


The Windy City had won the bid to host the 1904 Summer Olympics, but the games’ time frame overlapped with the Louisiana Purchase Convention (also known as the 1904 World’s Fair) in St. Louis, a more popular and established event. World’s Fair officials were unwilling to allow a “rival” event to take place in another city, forcing Olympic officials to move the games to St. Louis. The games were no longer a standalone event.

[rebelmouse-image 19533892 dam="1" original_size="512x387" caption="1904 World's Fair. Photo via David R. Francis, "The Universal Exposition of 1904"/Wikimedia Commons." expand=1]1904 World's Fair. Photo via David R. Francis, "The Universal Exposition of 1904"/Wikimedia Commons.

To make matters worse, by July — less than two months before the games began — no invitations to other countries had been extended. But even if the invitations had gone out on time, it was unlikely Europe would make a strong showing due to political tensions back home and the considerable distance to travel. The result was an Olympic delegation that, by default, skewed heavily American, with only 42 of the 651 athletes coming from non-U.S. nations.

The games were also host to politicking, scandals, practical jokes, and bad luck — all of which made for a colorful retrospective, but a lackluster event at the time.

However, amid the chaos and countless obstacles the athletes faced in St. Louis, the event served as a showcase for many Olympic records and firsts.

The fact that the games served as a de facto American platform didn’t curb the competitive fire of the athletes who did show up; many had trained their entire lives for the opportunity.

One such athlete was University of Michigan runner Archie Hahn.

Having won events at the 1903 Intercollegiate Championships, expectations were high for the multitalented track athlete. Hahn didn’t disappoint, winning gold in all three of his events: the 60 meters, the 100 meters, and the 200 meters. In the latter event, Hahn set an Olympic record time of 21.6 seconds. His record stood for 28 years and endured better-attended games in the future.

Another was George Eyser, a gymnast with a wooden prosthetic leg who competed for the American team.

[rebelmouse-image 19533893 dam="1" original_size="512x377" caption="Concordia Turnverein Gymnastic Team, 1908. George Eyser is in the center. Photo by Louis Melsheimer/Missouri Historical Society/Wikimedia Commons." expand=1]Concordia Turnverein Gymnastic Team, 1908. George Eyser is in the center. Photo by Louis Melsheimer/Missouri Historical Society/Wikimedia Commons.

A German immigrant, Eyser had lost his leg in a train accident as a child, but he stood out as the premiere talent in his local St. Louis gymnastics team. And at the 1904 Games, he won six medals — five of them in a single day — securing his place in American Olympic history.

It would be over a century before the Olympics would see another amputee compete in the games.

While this Olympiad was far from flawless, it secured a place in athletic history not just with the individual athletic achievements it provided, but also the bevy of new sports it hosted.

Prior to the St. Louis Olympics, boxing, freestyle wrestling, and the decathlon had never been medal events. A century later, it’s hard to imagine the Olympics without them.

Other introduced events, such as tug-of-war, don’t feel quite so essential because, well, they didn’t stick around too long. The six-member event debuted in 1904 with the U.S. winning all three medals, but it lasted only through the 1920 Games before its elimination. Nonetheless, many modern fans have been clamoring for its return to the Olympics.

[rebelmouse-image 19533895 dam="1" original_size="640x363" caption="1904 tug-o-war game. Photo by Charles Lucas/Library of Congress/Wikimedia Commons." expand=1]1904 tug-o-war game. Photo by Charles Lucas/Library of Congress/Wikimedia Commons.

These new events and the athletes they featured may have been foreign to many at the time, but they quickly won the hearts of fans the world over.

The inaugural U.S. Games ultimately served as a reminder — albeit a rocky one — that the spirits of Olympic competition and unity persevere even under the most bizarre circumstances. An Olympic athlete is trained to be tenacious in the face of adversity, and nowhere have we seen this better than the sparsely attended, poorly planned 1904 St. Louis Summer Olympics.

These games may not hold a spot in the pantheon of legendary Olympiads, but they still highlight the accomplishments and spirit of the athletes who participated. The enduring and unlikely legacies stemming from these games remind even the most jaded fans that the Olympics exist as a platform for the athletes.

The chaotic affair also served as a pioneering event, paving the way for United States’ rich history in the games in both hosting and competing.

This story was produced as part of a campaign called "17 Days" with DICK'S Sporting Goods. These stories aim to shine a light on real occurrences of sports bringing people together.

Connections Academy

Wylee Mitchell is a senior at Nevada Connections Academy who started a t-shirt company to raise awareness for mental health.

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Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

TikTok about '80s childhood is a total Gen X flashback.

As a Gen X parent, it's weird to try to describe my childhood to my kids. We're the generation that didn't grow up with the internet or cell phones, yet are raising kids who have never known a world without them. That difference alone is enough to make our 1980s childhoods feel like a completely different planet, but there are other differences too that often get overlooked.

How do you explain the transition from the brown and orange aesthetic of the '70s to the dusty rose and forest green carpeting of the '80s if you didn't experience it? When I tell my kids there were smoking sections in restaurants and airplanes and ashtrays everywhere, they look horrified (and rightfully so—what were we thinking?!). The fact that we went places with our friends with no quick way to get ahold of our parents? Unbelievable.

One day I described the process of listening to the radio, waiting for my favorite song to come on so I could record it on my tape recorder, and how mad I would get when the deejay talked through the intro of the song until the lyrics started. My Spotify-spoiled kids didn't even understand half of the words I said.

And '80s hair? With the feathered bangs and the terrible perms and the crunchy hair spray? What, why and how?

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Ginger the dog reunited with family 5 years after being stolen

Ginger's family never gave up hope, and it payed off.

Ginger the dog was missing for five years before being reunited with her family.

A sweet pup is finally home with her family where she belongs after way too many years away.

Ginger the dog was stolen from her family back in 2017. Her owner, Barney Lattimore of Janesville, Wisconsin, never gave up the hope that his sweet girl was out there somewhere. Whenever he'd see a dog listed on a rescue website or humane society website that even remotely resembled his Ginger, he would inquire about the dog. Unfortunately, it was never her. You'd think that after a while he would stop, but if he had, he likely wouldn't have gotten the sweetest reunion.

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That first car is a rite of passage into adulthood. Specifically, the hard-earned lesson of expectations versus reality. Though some of us are blessed with Teslas at 17, most teenagers receive a car that’s been … let’s say previously loved. And that’s probably a good thing, considering nearly half of first-year drivers end up in wrecks. Might as well get the dings on the lemon, right?

Of course, wrecks aside, buying a used car might end up costing more in the long run after needing repairs, breaking down and just a general slew of unexpected surprises. But hey, at least we can all look back and laugh.

My first car, for example, was a hand-me-down Toyota of some sort from my mother. I don’t recall the specific model, but I definitely remember getting into a fender bender within the first week of having it. She had forgotten to get the brakes fixed … isn’t that a fun story?

Jimmy Fallon recently asked his “Tonight Show” audience on Twitter to share their own worst car experiences. Some of them make my brake fiasco look like cakewalk (or cakedrive, in this case). Either way, these responses might make us all feel a little less alone. Or at the very least, give us a chuckle.

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