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Danell Leyva and John Orozco: Fathers deserve medal in parenting

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Matt Dunham/AP

(Read caption) US men's gymnastics member Danell Leyva's stepfather and coach Yin Alvarez, right, celebrates after Leyva, left, won the bronze medal during individual all-around competition at the 2012 London Olympics on Aug. 1. Both Leyva and teammate John Orozco received support from their fathers during the competition.

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Danell Leyva’s dad is not afraid to hug, hop, whoop, fist pump, weep, ear tweak, and give stern looks that telegraph to his son, “You can do better!”

John Orozco's father sits stoically in the stands, looking down on the US men's gymnastics competition and willing his son to persevere.

Both fathers' ability to connect with their sons via sport is the gold standard for modern dads, according to a study released this month by the University of California.

The study, "Fatherhood and Youth Sports: A Balancing Act between Care and Expectations," released this week by University of California, Los Angeles, takes a look at “how men juggle two contrasting cultural models of masculinity when fathering through sports – a performance-oriented orthodox masculinity that historically has been associated with sports and a caring, inclusive masculinity that promotes the nurturing of one’s children.”

The fact that dad/coach Yin Alvarez is Mr. Leyva’s stepfather adds a whole new dimension to the story, and it goes a long way toward removing the stigma stepfathers can often suffer when they are portrayed as disconnected from children who are not theirs biologically.

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