Sunday, February 21, 2010

OOOOHHHHH!..... Canada.....

So the Canadian government, knowing we'd be hosting the games and wanting to put up the best performance ever by a Canadian Winter Olympic team, puts $CDN 120 million into amateur sport so the Canadians can "own the podium."

For this unprecedented investment, we got ZERO medals from the reigning world champion in men's 1000m short track speedskating to date. We got ZERO medals from our combined alpine ski team, several members of which grew up skiing the very mountain the Olympic races are being held on. Zero medals from figure skating, even after four years of being spoon fed Patrick "why would I do a quad jump" Chan by the media and several McDonald's commercials.

My favourite quote demonstrating the loser attitude of these athletes to date comes from Britt Janyk, female downhill skier who placed 5th or 6th, who in essence said that she was thrilled with her finish and that her gold medal was hearing the roar of the home crowd.

Frankly, as a taxpayer, I don't have an issue with funding amateur sport in our country. I do have an issue with how the vast majority of that funding goes to parts of the country that have already received tens or even hundreds of millions in infrastructure spending (Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver), while other regions seeking to put opportunities in front of their young people get a nice pat on the head from the federal government, whether our token national politician is Liberal (Geoff Regan) or Conservative (Peter MacKay). I also have an issue with giving millions to athletes and programs that fail to produce results repeatedly.

If our ski team can't get past 2nd tier results and medal with millions of dollars in government funding above and beyond their significant corporate sponsors, then get a new ski team and some better coaching. We have world class courses across the country, access to the same gear and equipment as the top alpine teams in the world. This isn't a matter of someone not winning a gold on a $35 per week stipend and cutting them loose to starve. These are highly remunerated, well supported athletes, and they're NOT producing medals.

The athlete I have the most respect for after not winning a medal when it was clearly in her reach was Melissa Hollingsworth, female skeleton racer. When she blew a medal with a couple of obvious mistakes on her fourth of four runs, she, in TEARS, apologized to the entire country for letting a medal get away, knowing how much support she'd received from government, taxpayers, sponsors and that it was within her power to bring a medal home to validate that support. She said she felt like she let the entire country down.

Note to any Canadian athlete who whiffs or mucks up a chance to bring home a medal when it's clearly within your power to do so- watch Melissa Hollingsworth's interview and take a lesson. Please don't tell the country that shelled out hundreds of millions so you could compete on home soil that we should be satisfied with your enjoyment of hearing the crowd cheer for you to NOT win. If you're OK with that, please stop making such ineffective use of the money hardworking Canadians are putting on the table for you to train, retire and let another young Canadian who's willing to do what it takes to be the champion of their respective sport have their shot.

I'm only one person, but I have to think that there are plenty more Canadians out there tired of supporting athletes who lead the world in moral victories. I want to see Canada well represented on the podium, because we've got one of the very greatest countries in the world- that should show up when we compete in any arena...