By Jason Menard
In just a few short days the eyes of the world – and the cameras of the CBC – will be focussed on birthplace of Western civilization, Athens, Greece. It’s an Olympic year and, judging by the paraphernalia and marketing tie-ins on display wherever you look, I’ll be the only one on the outside, not caring to look in.
Now, I’m as big of a sports fan as anyone, but I just can’t get into the Olympics. I’ve tried. Really, I have. And while I support anything that makes us feel proud as Canadians, for me this whole Olympic movement hits me more in the bowel than in the heart.
If there’s a gold medal in hypocrisy, I’m afraid we’d be solid contenders! Every two years (now that the summer and winter games fall on a rotating basis — you know — to maximize sponsor dollars) Canadians work themselves up into an orgiastic frenzy over the Olympics!
Then, almost before the torch is doused, all is forgotten. Heroes are made in a fraction of a second, but are cast aside before the final note is played on the closing ceremonies. We watch anxiously as an athlete – of whom we’ve never heard before (except for those TSN/CBC preview shows…) competes in an event we don’t really care about. We take vicarious pleasure in their victory, and heap scorn on those that don’t measure up to our expectations.
But we don’t have the right? Where are we during the intervening years? The same people who sit in judgement after another disappointing Olympic result, decrying the lack of federal funding for our elite athletes, are also the same ones who never think of ponying up their own money to go to a local fencing club or luge event! For the most part, the only people that attend amateur athletics are family and friends – actual spectators are few and far between.
And while most people wouldn’t review a book without reading it first, there seems to be no problem in shooting off our mouths on athletes and sports we know next to nothing about.
What these athletes need is our support more than once every four years! They give their bodies, minds, and dedication to a cause, often with little to no support, no funding, and no general interest. While we produce reams of newsprint detailing the goings-on of millionaire professionals, these true athletes, who are the purest representation of sport out there, get next to no notice – except when the Olympics roll around.
To take vicarious pride in the successes of athletes that we’ve ignored for so long insults the effort, pain, and hardship they’ve endured to become elite. It’s like the guy at work or school that takes equal credit for a project you’ve completed despite doing next to no work! You hate that guy in everyday life, but you have no compunctions about being that guy when the Olympics roll around.
Now, it’s too late to jump on the ol’ bandwagon this year. Anyway, doing so would just seem so transparent. So go ahead and watch the Olympics, enjoy the thrill of competition, cheer the Maple Leaf to your hearts’ content. Cheer on our fencers, our synchronised swimmers, and our handball competitors! And feel free to revel in the fact that, win or lose, they will have represented our country at the highest level of competition.
But don’t let that be the end of your journey. The moment that athlete breaks the tape at the finish line should be the moment you start your involvement! That trampoline competition really got you jumping? Find out when the next local event takes place – and attend! Your admission dollars, for the most part, will help fund those athletes and help them get to the next level.
People that wouldn’t think twice about taking out a second mortgage for Leafs’ tickets rarely drop any coin to get into gymnastics meet – but these athletes need your support! Really, it’s the least you can do to pay for you riding their coat tails to the podium this summer.
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