They say that it can take years, decades often to gain a perspective on an event sufficient to speak intelligently about it. So, I figured with only two days to go, it was high time I pontificated on the Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
Now let me say first of all, that I have a slightly dis-favorable view of Vancouver based upon the only person I “know” from there. A fellow blogger whom I no longer follow put me in my place some years ago. She announced rather huffily that she was a phenomenal judge of character, and Obama would be a terrible President since he had “cold dead eyes.”
Okay, so I figure Vancouverians are judgmental asshats who should spend more time worrying about why so many Canadians would rather be US citizens if their country is so darn perfect as they often suggest it is.
Note that I do not make this assessment of Canada in general, or had not as to date, since I find their approach to health care, gay union, and a whole host of issues spot on and an embarrassment to us southern neighbors who are backward heathens by comparison.
But, I did say, as to date. The Olympics definitely have changed my mind. First lets talk about climate. Are we to understand that Vancouverites are finding this winter a polar opposite of so-called normal winter there? If not, then they should have come clean that it was a bit too warm there, subject to RAIN and all around not so conducive to WINTER sports. From skiing to speed skating there are reports of bad snow, bad ice, slow ice, slop, slush, rain, fog, and well, conditions that do not lead athletes to put in their best performances.
Then we get to the venues, those places constructed for various sports. The luge we need not get into deeply. The course was designed to be faster than any other, and it is. Canadians had access to practicing on it for months to get used to the speed. Nobody else did. And someone died. End of story there. Similar stories are told about the speed skating where other athletes were denied access to the venues for training until the last minute.
I am continually amazed at the cheating that goes on. The designer of the ski venue deliberately designed the courses to favor the women from his country (not Canadian). A Canadian was a judge in the final of the men’s 500 short track when two Canadians were in the mix, and the disqualification of Apolo Ohno benefited and gave a medal to a Canadian skater who fell. I’m at a loss why the Olympic Committee doesn’t work harder to avoid these “appearances” of favoritism.
Mostly I’m rather disgusted by the Canadian battle cry of “owning the medal podium.” I am as disgusted at this as the nightly “medal count” that NBC seems to think we are all interested in. I frankly find it demeaning, divisive and all sorts of unsavory things.
Then, lets get to the human interest stories. Most of them are okay. I enjoy learning a bit about athletes from far off places whose families and they often sacrifice mightily for them to pursue their dreams. But oh, my the nonsense that nations are tottering on the edge of collapse, all hope riding on the shoulders of some emaciated girl barely 20 years old who straps on a pair of skates and dance/jumps her way to victory.
I mean Finland cries that it will be a national catastrophe if their ski jump team doesn’t come home laden with gold, and the Koreans have everything riding on a few skaters. The economies apparently are teetering, everyone holding their breath, everyone packed to move to another country should a fall, slip, slight error, knock their favorite from the podium.
I find it all loathsome, whiny, and overly dramatic. I’m sick (sorry but I truly am) of hearing about the “daughter of Canada” who skated despite her mother’s unexpected death. I mean, don’t they all carry on under these circumstances? I’m truly sorry for her loss, but this maudlin questioning of her thoughts is just exquisitely boring. I mean, NBC is still boring us to death with Dan Jansen, and how many years ago was that? His tragic fall, his resurrection six years later. . . .blah, blah blah.
Perhaps that is what is wrong with sports. The attempt to make winning or losing the end all and be all of human existence. And it almost never is. The losers go on to fine lives, or not, but it seldom has much to do with the sport. Same for the winners. In fact, argument can be made that the winners are the big losers in the end, many of them go on to tragic lives of over exposure, personal issues, and obscurity that is bitter to them.
Mostly I just think that Canada wasted a lovely opportunity to stand above the fray. I fully expected them not to engage in all the tricks and national flag waving. I fully expected them to stand head and shoulders above the rest of us, proclaiming the real point–fair, civil, honest competition, saluting the winners and those who came in a bit late. Promoting the human spirit, rather than “grabbing gold” would have been a much more elegant and noble enterprise. Alas, they acted like everyone else.