THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Chula Vista, California) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release June 23, 2000
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT TO THE U.S. OLYMPIC TRAINING CENTER COMMUNITY U.S. Olympic Training Center Visitors Center Chula Vista, California
10:55 A.M. PDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Thank you, Deena, for the wonderful introduction and for the way you represent our country -- and for the little local reference to Arkansas, I liked that. (Laughter.)
Thank you, Bill Hybl, for the work you do with the Olympic Committee. And I want to say a special word of thanks to Pat Milkovich for the wonderful tour of the training center today, we had a great time and I thank you so much. (Applause.)
I want to thank Representative Bob Filner, the Congressman from this district for being with me today and for his support. Someone just thanked him on the way for being against having all that cargo noise coming over here and interrupting your training center. (Applause.) I figure he'll take a lot of heat for that position, so somebody who likes it might as well clap. (Laughter.)
I want to thank the Bonita Vista High School Marching Band for playing; let's give them a hand, they're great. (Applause.) Some of their members have been selected to perform at the opening ceremonies in Sydney, and I know they'll have a good time. (Applause.) I'd like to thank Mayor Horton, from Chula Vista, and the Chula Vista council members who are here and the county officials who are here, and Representative Susan Davis, a candidate for Congress. Thank you for coming. I'm glad to see all of you here. (Applause.)
Most of all, I'd like to thank the athletes and the coaches and the trainers that gave me a tour around this magnificent facility today. I had a great time. And I realize that most of these things I can't do anymore -- (laughter) -- but I really had a great time.
Deena talked about perseverance and hard work, but I want to tell you a little something about her. She was too humble to mention her own experience with cross country championships in Portugal this year. About 100 yards into the race her throat closed up and she couldn't breathe. After five kilometers, she blacked out and fell. It turned out a bee had flown into her mouth and stung her in the throat.
But she got up and kept going and, thanks to her, the women's team still left Portugal with a medal. She gave new meaning to the term "making a beeline." Giver her a hand, she was great. (Applause.)
One of the real highlights of our White House years for Hillary, Chelsea and me has been the chance to be a part of the Olympic experience, cheering on our teams from Lillehammer to Atlanta to Nagano and now to Sydney, where at least I know my daughter is going. My wife is in a competition of her own and I am informed that my services may be needed elsewhere; but our daughter informed us that she would be in Sydney to cheer the teams on.
I am so glad to have this chance to see all the work that you're doing to prepare for the games here. You know, just moments before he won one of his gold medals, the legendary Jesse Owens said, "a lifetime of training for just 10 seconds." In the magic of the Olympic moment, it may be easy for those of us who aren't part of it, except as spectators, to lose sight of all that had to be done before. The years and years of getting up before the sun, the time away from your loved ones, the hard work, the sacrifice, and something that's often overlooked -- the pain.
So on behalf of all the people in this country, I'd like to just say more than anything else, I wanted to come here to say to these team members and those who want to make the Olympic Teams, we appreciate you, we thank you, and we are very, very proud of you. (Applause.)
I have thought a lot, especially in the Olympic season, about why the Olympics mean so much to people all over the world, and especially why the American people get so completely caught up in them; why they capture our imagination and our hearts. Obviously, we love athletics. And we are highly competitive people, as that little in-your-face rap that Deena gave us showed about the American team.
But I think there's even more to it than the love of competition and athletics. I think people like the Olympics, in large measure, because the Olympics work pretty much the way we think life ought to work; the way we think the world ought to work: everybody gets an opportunity to play -- and regardless of race or station in life -- and increasingly, thank goodness, regardless of gender. People are valued based on their performance and their effort, not their posturing. People get a chance to do their best, and also to bring out the best in one another. And everybody, including those that don't win medals, is better off for having tried, in giving his or her best. You win by playing by the rules, and by doing it well.
I think we like the Olympics because we all think the world ought to work that way. And we know if other forms of human endeavor worked that way, we'd be better off. One of the reasons I ran for President eight years ago is that I thought that Washington ought to work more like that. I thought it ought to be more about production, and less about posturing. And it's tough for people in politics, because they know that if they produce, they may not get on the evening news, but if they posture, they can get there.
And so I hope part of what will happen in this, is that the Olympic spirit will catch up in Washington, and will actually produce some things: medicine for our seniors on Medicare, and a patients' bill of rights, and an increase in the minimum wage; a lot of other things we could be doing that we could actually reach agreement on across party lines, even though it may cost everybody a few seconds on the evening news.
The rules of the game there are too often, I've got an idea, you've got an idea; let's fight. (Laughter.) And you give us all a good sober reminder that in the end, when it's all said and done, we're going to be judged not by what we said, but by what we've done. And I thank you for that. (Applause.)
Now, let me just say, this day is special for a lot of reasons. It's Olympic Day; on this day more than a hundred years ago, the modern Olympic Games were founded. It was also a hundred years ago this summer that women were first allowed to compete in the Olympic Games, and they did, all 11 of them. (Laughter and applause.) This year, more than 4,000 women will compete in the Olympic games -- the largest number ever. (Applause.)
Let me say a couple of other things about this day. On this day 60 years ago, one of the greatest Olympians of all time was born: Wilma Rudolph. She won her first medal the last time the Olympics were held in Australia, in 1956. And, finally, today is special because it's also on this day 28 years ago that Title IX became the law of the land. (Applause.)
Now, it's interesting that all this stuff happened on this day. But Title IX has really enabled America to live up to the Olympic spirit, to give everybody a chance. To give everybody a chance to play by the rules. Everybody a chance to live up to his and her God-given abilities.
Before Title IX, there were 300,000 girls in high school sports. Today, there are more than 2 million. It's not a coincidence that in Atlanta, the first generation of women to grow up under Title IX -- literally to have their whole lives in Title Nine -- went on to win the gold medal in soccer, the gold medal in softball, the gold medal in gymnastics, and the gold medal in basketball. It works. (Applause.)
Believe it or not, I found out not long ago that Title IX's requirement for equal opportunity in sports and in education does not apply to the education and training programs run by the federal government itself. So on this anniversary of Title IX, I am actually signing an executive order that applies Title IX to the federal government's programs and prohibits discrimination of any kind in federally conducted education and training programs. (Applause.)
Let me just say one other thing about the importance of broadening opportunities here. I would like to ask all of you who are presently athletes or who have been or who are otherwise involved in this Olympic movement to continue to share your gifts, not only on the field of competition, but in the playing field of life, and especially with our young people -- and with those whose job it is to raise them well.
Let me just give you one example of something that really concerns me. Over the last 20 years, too many of our schools have abandoned their music, their arts and their psychical education programs. You may have noticed that last week I went to New York City to be on the "Today Show" to talk about the VH1 music and school program, where they worked so hard to get instruments back into schools so schools can start their school music programs again.
There is so much evidence that a lot of young people learn better if they have access early to music and arts programs. But it's also really troubling to me that so many schools have just completely abandoned physical education programs for all kids, while maintaining team sports.
Now, a lot of the athletes behind me may be going to the Olympics in sports for which there was no competition in their schools. And they wouldn't necessarily have been football or basketball players, or even soccer players, if their schools had competitive soccer.
Listen to this. The percentage of high school students in daily physical education has declined more than 30 percent in the last 10 years. Today, fewer than one in three students are enrolled in phys ed every day. Meanwhile, the percentage of young people who are overweight has doubled in the same time period. The two things are closely related. And we know that it has an effect on learning, on self-image, on self-esteem, on a sense of what you can do.
Today, I'm directing our Secretary of Education, Dick Riley, and Donna Shalala, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, to work with the U.S. Olympic Committee, our Physical Fitness Council and others to try to find ways to encourage more young people to get fit and stay fit. And I'm asking Congress to establish a foundation that will leverage the energy, creativity and resources of the private sector in furthering the mission of the President's Council on Physical Fitness, to help every young person in America to live an active, safe and healthy life.
I hope you'll help us do that. We need to remember that not every six- or eight- or ten-year-old can be on the football team or on a basketball team, or even on a soccer team, and all of our kids need access to healthy lifestyles, good exercise and basic good athletic habits. We need your help in achieving that goal. (Applause.)
Finally, let me say I'd give anything to be in Sydney. I thank you for your dedication, your courage; for reaching deep inside, for giving your heart and soul to this. And I want you to win all the medals you can, just like Deena said. But I want you to realize that by what you have accomplished already, and by the way you have done it, you have already made your country very proud.
You carry more than our flag to Sydney. You carry the spirit of our country, our hopes, our dreams, our prayers. And all of us will be with you all the way. Thank you, and God bless you. (Applause.)
END 10:10 A.M. PDT