Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Canada and Sports At Their Best

Canada and Sports At Their Best

As I write this I am in the midst of finalizing plans for the Sussex Corner Winter Carnival and thousands of volunteers in Vancouver are prepping for the start of the 2010 Winter Olympics, both less than 3 days away. I thought for some time about how to celebrate the Olympics in my column and even still as I write this I am not entirely certain how it will end up. If you think about it though, uncertainty and suspense is what keeps people's attention at the Olympics. True competition often results in drama and bizarre story lines that are either heart breaking, or inspiring and the best stories are the unexpected ones.

There are 15 different sports represented at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Each of those has multiple competition styles in which athletes will compete for a gold medal. In total there will be 615 medals awarded at the Vancouver Olympics according to http://www.vancouver2010.com/olympic-medals/vancouver-2010-medals/ and every one of them is unique. The Olympics are about more than the medals though. The Games are more about the competition and about dedication to sport. No matter how commercial the Olympics become and I don't think that is a bad thing, the athletes will always rise above that, and their stories will be what people remember. Can you remember one commercial from the 1988 Calgary Olympics? Probably not, but I bet you remember "Eddie the Eagle."

It might have to do with being Canadian. It might be that I could be considered a bit odd. Whatever the reason, I prefer the Winter Olympics over the Summer Games. I can simplify the Winter Olympics easier and thus I can more easily put myself in the athlete's shoes. Tell me you don't watch the luge and move your body back and forth as the driver takes a turn at over 130km/h. Maybe you lift your chest higher as the ski jumper lifts off and then you relax as he touches back down. It is likely the most active an armchair athlete will be for sometime.

No matter how close we might feel to the athlete there is nothing like truly being there and competing. Watching the inspirational musical montages, no matter how moving, just doesn't show how much hard work and dedication the Olympic athletes put into getting to the world stage. Hours of training, injury, financial hardship, family sacrifices, all simply to have a chance at competing. What drives someone so fiercely? Is it as simple as the pride in representing your country? If someone were to offer you a million dollars or the chance to compete in the snowboard half-pipe in the Olympics which would you choose? My answer is without a doubt "Can you teach me how to snowboard?" Unfortunately for me no one is going to make that offer, and even if they did I still wouldn't have the true feeling of getting there. Likely the only feeling I would have is embarrassment.

For the next couple of weeks the glow of my television will light my living room as we watch the Olympics. I will likely tell some of the stories of Olympics past to my son and pass my torch of love for the Olympics onto him. I wish the Canadian athletes great luck. GO CANADA GO.

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