This Friday kicks off the summertime sporting extravaganza that southeast Michigan parents and kids eagerly welcome every four years: the Olympics! For those of us (OK – make that most) who will not be heading to London to observe the historic 2012 games, which run July 27-Aug. 12, here are seven cool products that'll help your family feel a little bit closer to their favorite Olympic events. Why not use a few of them to host your own Backyard Olympic games right at home?
For less than $80 on Amazon, this colorful mat by Alex Toys not only gives your future Shawn Johnson someplace to tumble around, but it also provides you peace of mind knowing your kid's got a bit of cush. Try it for dance and martial arts, too – or just practicing that first handstand.
No need to make the trek all the way to a tennis court. Using this set from Fat Brain Toys, youngsters can play a Wimbledon-worthy game right in your driveway! This set includes two rackets, two balls and the net for less than $50.
Whether you call it soccer or football, this design-your-own-ball kit from Growing Tree Toys is sure to stand out amongst the rest. For a little under $20, this set includes a hand-sewn size-five ball, a pump and a variety of colorful paints that allow kids' creativity to run wild.
Look like a member of the Team USA swimmers with this towel from ESPN Shop. For just $19, your Michael Phelps-in-training can dry off with pride.
Instead of just watching the iron pumpers, let your little one join in on the fun! For about $60, your tyke will be hitting the bench press in no time with a mini barbell from Wod Toys. Made of durable lightweight plastic, it weighs in at only 2.2 pounds, so kids of any age can enjoy. (Check out their faux kettle bells, plyo boxes, med balls and more, too.)
Put this custom-named basketball hoop on a wall for a ball game perfect for pint-sized players. Includes a foam ball for indoor games and two chalkboards for keeping score. Order it from Pottery Barn Kids for just under $60.
Turn a regular game of beach volleyball into an eye-popping treat! Put on the special 3D sports viewers to make this soft and safe ball to come to life during a game. Get it from Toys "R" Us for under $10.