Before I break into a rant let me say I have been watching quite a bit of the Olympics and am pleased Canadians have do so well. I look forward to more doing well and even winning medals before the events are over.
That out of the way, let me say all year I have been troubled by the official aggressive attitude being expressed by the offical Canadian Olympic establishment, "Own the Podium!". More and more we have heard that Canadian athetes are expected to win medals, perhaps, more than at any other Winter Olympics. We have had to put up with this mantra of only winning being of value up to the Olympics.
While winning medals is the icing on the cake for an athelete and used as reason for National pride, it cannot and should not be the test of success for athletes. Only very few climb up on the podium but each and every individual needs to be recognized and honoured for just being there.
Personal best is still the fairest measure to success.
It was predictable that commentators would start to talk of an athelete who is expected to win a gold medal and ends up winning a silver or bronze as "failing". This kind of talk grates on me.
We all know that in any particular day in a high calibre competition any one of a number of contestants can win. Even the most outstanding athelete can do his or her best on that day and another athlete can score higher. This is not a failure but an accomplishment and we should recognize it as such rather than make an athlete feel they have failed , themselves, their team mates, their country. I was prepared for this and have put up with the broadcasting nonsense.
This is not what has left me uneasy about the Olympics. It took me a while to sort it out. It began with the opening ceremony which lead me to look at the Canadian athletes as a group.
I thought the opening ceremony was a visually interesting presentation. I gather it was an attempt to display who Canadians are, their values and how they feel about our magnificent country. It failed.
Canada is officially a bilingual and multi-cultural country. This differentiates us from our sounthern neighbour. When you examine the Opening Ceremony you realize there is very little French spoken or French speaking entertainers making a contibution. Even the official statement by Mr. John Furlong ,the head of the committee that organized the Winter Olympics was only done in English.
It was nice that the local First Nations' people were highlighted. And so they should be. The First Nation's people of British Columbia never ceded their territory in treaties as occured in most of Canada. Only in recent years have substantial settlements been made with First Nation's communities in British Columbia . They have regained some sovereignty over their traditional territories and there is an increasing appreciation of the uniqueness of their customs and culture. There is a lot more to be accomplished in the area of how Canada treats First Nation's people. Our historic record is quite shameful. Canada is still one of four countries (Canada, United States , New Zealand and Australia) which has failed to sign the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People, a small but symbolic jesture of some importance.
With the exception of the First Nation's presence in the Opening Ceremony there is little recognition of the ethnic and cultural mix of Canada. Vancouver is one of the most ethically diverse cities with very large Asian populations. Where were the Asian faces in the celebration of the Winter Olympics? Where are the faces of all the identifiable minories in Canada.
From the Opening Ceremony you would get the impression that Canada is still an English dominated country which tolerates some French. This is not Canada of the 21st Century. This is the Canada of two or more generations ago. They should have celebrated Canada and Canadians are they are now in the beginning of the 21st Century.
How did they get it so wrong? After I sorted this out for myself I discovered that my view is more widely shared. The Heritage Minister, John Moore and the Premier of Quebec, Jean Charest, among others complained at the absence of French. And apprently, the Vancouver Olympic Committee (VANOC) rightfully heard from the local ethic organizations about the absence of visible minorites. I gather they are scrabbling to make some changes at the last moment in the closing ceremony to limit this criticism. What is distressing is that early on the Committee had heard these concerns and put together the programs largely ignoring them.
Again, how could they get it so wrong?
Finally, I look at the athletes themselves. We need to examine out support of athletes and athletics and make sure that all ethnic communities have access to sport. From the faces of Canada's athletes, with the exception of a handful you would think Canada had very few visible minorites. I hope that this is just a lag in minority communities getting involved in Canadian Winter sports and not some de facto racism within Canada. We need to examine ourselves over this so that by the time another Winter Olympics comes around Canada will field athletes from more of our ethnic communities.
I hope everyone is enjoying the Olympics and appreciating the efforts of all athletes.
My grandson, Dylan, has come to the end of the portion of his time in Vancouver. He is now on his way to the interior of BC to Osoyoo, in the Okanagan Valley, to spend some time at a resort there getting in some snowboarding and hot tubbing, (these seem to be the to things that interest him the most.
Here is a video of Baldy Mountain in the Okanagan region. I think it is this resort he will be at.
A snowboarder's paradise