One can imagine how stressful competing in the London Games can be for Olympic athletes. But all too often, it seems the parents of athletes are the ones at the center of attention during the fierce competition, watching overanxiously in the stands as their sons and daughters go for the gold.
"In case you somehow haven't noticed," Jared Diamond of The Daily Fix wrote, "NBC has been turning the anxious, twitching, writhing, panic-stricken parents of the athletes into overnight TV sensations."
Extreme parent reactions came into full spotlight on Sunday when the parents of Aly Raisman "stole the show," as some media reports said during NBC's coverage. During her battle with Jordyn Wieber, who did not advance to the all-around finals in gymnastics, Raisman's parents, Lynn and Rick, were seen squirming, cringing and screaming as their daughter performed.
"After Raisman's routine on the uneven bars, NBC showed her parents for 48 consecutive seconds," Diamond wrote. "In that time, her mother - who looked considerably more anxious than her daughter ever did actually competing - said the phrases 'come on' and 'let's go' 12 times apiece. Her father didn't chime in until the very end, when he blurted out, 'Stick it, please.' (Raisman obliged.)"
Their reactions as they watched resulted in viral videos, GIFs and photos which circulated around the Internet, much to their dismay.
"I'm a little horrified right now," Rick Raisman told USA Today of their reaction video. "It's funny," Lynn chimed in.
"At first we don't want her to know where we are in the stands so we're almost hiding," Rick said. "It's just one of those moments. It's just so magnified. Every single twist and turn. It's just crazy."
Raisman, on the other hand, "thought it was hilarious," her father said.
According to ABC News, it is not uncommon for Olympics coverage to be ridden with parents.
"NBC has caught some flack for their Olympics coverage, but cutting to Olympic parents' reactions has become a staple and made for some amazing television moments," ABC reported. "Mothers of Olympic athletes have been queens of the camera cutaways, with television cameras catching them in moments of amped-up anxiety. The standard shot used to be a brief glimpse of Mom with her hands on her face or Dad looking tense, but that has been replaced by drawn-out play-by-plays of parents screaming, crying, cheering and covering their eyes while watching their child compete from the stands."
People magazine even wrote a feature dedicated to parents watching the Olympics, asking readers which family "is the most fun to watch."
But according to Judi Brown Clarke, who was a silver medalist in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, parents can often times be too stressful for their athlete children.
"I have seen athletes who wanted to please their parents so much -- this extra pressure to perform made them anorexic or bulimic," Brown Clarke told ABC.
But other parents are just being supportive, like simmer Michael Phelps' mom, Debbie, who was criticized for initially believing that her son had won Tuesday's race. Debbie Phelps was seen cheering and raising her arms when she thought her son had won his 15th gold medal during a race, but was actually won by Chad le Clos. She clapped on after checking the scoreboard but did utter, "He got second," according to STL Today.
"Watching the Olympics as a parent, it's hard not to imagine that it's your child out there," wrote KJ Dell'Antonia for the New York Times blog, Motherlode. "Your child flying high off the uneven bars and grasping them (or missing) on the way down; your child stepping out of bounds or falling from the balance beam; your child's face writ large on the screen as she watches for her score."
Do you think some of the parents of Olympic athletes are overanxious or just proud? View the slideshow to see photos of some of the most notorious moms and dads of Olympians.