A Few Olympic Thoughts

I have been trying very hard not to blog about the Olympics. There is so much about the way the Olympics are run that I find offensive. McDonald's as the official restaurant sponsor or wherever it claims to be, is preposterous just for a start.

But first I have to say, in all honesty, there were a few of the things I really did like about the games.

  1. Clara Hughes may be my favorite athlete of all time. Her commitment to programs such as Right to Play, her humility, and her determination are great examples for all of us.
  2. Nothing equals the exuberance of the Canadian woman's hockey team when they win gold. You'd have to have a heart of stone not to get swept up and into their celebration.
  3. I am a big bobsleigh fan and have been since I have been a teenager. It is fast and loud and exciting even if in person you really only see about 10 seconds of any given ride as they plummet down the track. I always thought it should be called bobsled though. The term sleigh for those sleds just seems wrong. It always makes me think of Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost. But I am getting a bit off track here. Woman's two man, gold and silver. What more can you say except that, it was amazing.
However, I sometimes wonder where these people that run things came from and how they got so far off course. To start with, their choice of sponsors was awful.
  • Coke and McDonald's? What kind of message does that send to kids?.
  • Weston? Wonder Bread?
  • The best you can say about Cold-FX is that it probably won't hurt you.
  • I have seen enough talking cars to last me a lifetime .
The IOC decided to remove Right to Play from any official status because of RTP's sponsors automobile maker Mitsubishi and Scotiabank. I can only guess that General Motors and RBC didn't like that. Canadian Olympic old fart Dick Pound explained it all saying "When you raise a lot of money from people who support your exercise, you can't have them ambushed by somebody else" His definition of the word ambush must be a bit different than mine.

Trying to censor performers by making them sign an agreement that they would not criticize the game was really stupid. It make Canada look like some China or the old Soviet Union.

Restricting facility access to anyone who wasn't a Canadian athlete was the worst example of poor sportsmanship I have seen for some time. If there is going to be an even playing field athletes have to be able to practice on the facilities they will race on. Some will argue for years that the decision most likely was the reason that 21 year old Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili, miscalculated and flew off the track smashing into a metal girder and died.

And finally this Own the Podium thing was dumbest, most misguided program ever. I noticed today that they have Ken Reid trying to do a bit of damage control in the Globe and Mail. It will take more than that. I think most Canadians were embarrassed by it.

Don't get me wrong. Medals are great but they aren't everything. I never want to hear Canadian commentators talking about losing the gold, having to settle for silver and letting Canada down. It is the kind of response we expect from the American networks but it just makes CTV look bad. The Olympics is supposed to be about celebrating athletes personal best. Lets' celebrate that.

I for one, look back fondly at the days when kids from less favoured nations sewed Canadian flags on their back packs, when Canadians were thought of as polite, when we weren't jingoistic and when our soldiers were peacekeepers.

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