Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Day That Canada Got It Wrong

Many of you that follow me on Twitter probably already read many of my thoughts regarding Canada's Flag Bearer during the closing ceremonies of the London 2012 Olympics on Sunday, and I apologize for not getting this post up sooner... I was taking a few days off in a place that has no internet... But I still think that this needs to be examined: Christine Sinclair as the flag bearer? Really..???

Before I go on, I should specify that I have nothing against Christine Sinclair or Canada or Women or Soccer or Canadian Women's Soccer, I simply think that choosing Sinclair as the flag bearer was a mistake. I also want to remind my readers that these are professional, dedicated athletes we're talking about, not 12 year old kids playing for fun. Olympic athletes have dedicated themselves to excellence and they're tougher than your average 12 year olds playing for fun. They don't need to be coddled; please do not project your own feelings into this ("How would I feel in this situation") because your feelings are irrelevant and those feelings are part of the problem.

I believe that the media attention obtained by the Canadian Women's soccer game leading into the end of the 2012 Olympics blinded Canadian Olympic Committee as to what was truly important. Thus, they ignored the ONLY CANADIAN to get a Gold Medal at the Games, Rosie MacLennan, and awarded a team member of the Bronze Medal winning Soccer team the honor. Hold on to your hats, this is likely the only time I'll ever come to the defence of Canadian Trampoline. Here's why:

  1. Ever hear of "Own The Podium"?: Own the Podium is a Canadian program put together to ensure podium performances at the Olympic level. Their goal in the 2012 Olympics was to finish top 12. We finished 13th (pause for crickets). If any one of you reading this thinks to themselves "Not bad, I guess..." give your heads a shake; you are part of this problem. We spend millions of dollars on this program. Our focus should be GOLD, not Silver or Bronze!! When you fail (13th instead of 12th IS a failure in this regard, BTW), you look at the positives such as the single Canadian to win a gold medal. Rosie should have been the face of these games!
  2. The message we sent to the world: Can you name another country that over looked a Gold medal winner and gave the Flag Bearing Honour to a Bronze Medal winner? You think that Lochte would be able to cary the American Flag instead of Phelps because Ryan got out-touched for a medal in 200FR (there was no Bronze given out)? You think they'd do that to make him feel good? Even after the big news that they Women's Soccer Team was "robbed" of the Gold Medal (which they hadn't won yet), that entitles them to the honour over the only Canadian Gold Medal winner? Last I checked the Olympics about winning.
  3. A bronze is a bronze... or maybe not: Here is where I get pretty annoyed... How do you value one Bronze medal over another? How do you say that the Women's Soccer Team Bronze was a bigger "step up" performance than Richard Weinberger's Bronze or Brent Hayden's Bronze or any Diver's Bronze... or how about Ryan Cochrane's Silver or anyone else's silver... or Rossie MacLennan's Gold? If this was a sympathy pick, Ryan was kicked out of the 400FR earlier in the meet for an officials error and came back to win Silver in the 1500FR... not going to count that one? To early in the games?
  4. Canadian mind set: I feel like, to Canada, the Olympics are more about participation than winning. Many age group athletes will tell you that they want to "Make it to the Olympics" rather than medal at the Olympics. Also, Canadians want to see people try their best and console them when we fail.  In the words of 1984 Olympic Gold Medalist, Anne Ottenbrite-Muylaert - "I agree with you Mike, it takes along time to get this out of Canadian mind set! Remember Kurt Browning falling and Canadians sent him their gold and melted it into a gold medal, while we had a silver medalist that got ignored!! We got to snap out of this if we want to see more GOLDS!"  - Right now, I believe we owe the other medalists an apology.
  5. I couldn't help but notice the number of BRONZE medals Canada won: We just told everyone that winning bronze is not only okay; but as long as controversy goes with it, we'll treat you like royalty. Don't believe me? Watch the next 4 years. I feel awful for Rosie right now!
  6. At least someone values Gold: This is what I'm talking about, countries like Great Britain and Australia who are outraged that they didn't have MORE golds. GB is holding an inquiry to find out why they didn't achieve more excellence even though they had 23 swims in top 8 finals.... more than they have ever had... so even though they are better and deeper than they have ever been, they're annoyed that they're not better. THATS the kind of Olympic Committee I want to see! I don't want the one reviling on a controversial Bronze, I want them to celebrate Gold and want more.
Every 4 years this happens... a key difference this year was that CTV covered the Olympics rather than CBC and I found a much more positive media crew (except for Rod Black) as a result. The media routinely sets up Team Canada for big things and they didn't quite reach them. Instead of making them feel crappy like we usually do, we hugged them and told them that we love them anyway, which is much greater than raking them across the coals in the newspapers. I believe that the athletes, in general, feel much better about representing Canada for this... however, I don't want athletes just representing Canada: I want them WINNING for Canada.

I feel bad for the Canadian Women's Soccer Team and that an official made an unfortunate call. I feel bad that we will never know if they could have won Gold. I think they played pretty well in the Bronze medal game and deserve that medal. Congrats to Christine Sinclair for playing so well and scoring so many goals. I just think that there were better Canadian performances and stories in the 2012 London Olympics that deserved the flag bearing honour more.

In Rosie's case, I feel awful for her. I don't particularly care for Trampoline (or any judged sport, really) and dealt with many Tweets and emails about how she only won because someone else slipped. Here's what I do know about Trampoline: Rosie's routine was the highest degree of difficulty and she didn't need that girl to slip; she already had it won. The fact that people are making excuses about why she won our only gold really bothers me! Trampoline is not sexy enough or exciting enough and not popular enough to get the spotlight... which is sad because it was our only performance that had the proper colour associated with it: GOLD. The Canadian Olympic Committee misinterpreted the point of the honour by allowing Christine Sinclair bear our flag on Sunday and sent a clear message about the value of Gold in Canada.

Basically it comes down to this: we don't want Gold bad enough in this country. We want drama and people hugging and happy and smiling, but we can have both! We can have gold medalists smiling and laughing and hugging... but we have to value them first. Sending the clear message to Rosie MacLennan that we valued the Canadian Women's Soccer performance over hers was a slight to her, her sport and her medal. We simply don't value it and we get what we deserve in that respect.