The title to this piece is taken from Cam Cole’s commentary in the Ottawa Citizen today where he criticizes the Canadian government (and by inference all Canadians) for our “pathetically small” investments we make in our world-class athletes.
Well my question is why should we make any investments in them at all?
The number of medals Canada wins (or doesn’t win) in the bi-annual sponsor-fest known as The Olympics has not one iota of relevance for me or any other Canadian not directly affected. It doesn’t improve our standard of living. It doesn’t provide work to the unemployed. It does nothing to house the homeless. And no one out there seriously believes that the true measure of a country is how many gold, silver and bronze medals its athletes take home every few years. All The Olympics do is provide 2 weeks of 24-hour television coverage every 2 years of sports we would never pay to go and watch (weight lifting, equestrian, synchronized swimming to name just a few), and enough gnashing of teeth and angst-ridden editorial comments by the national print media when we don’t win our fair quota of medals to fell a few hundred thousand trees.
The entire Olympic movement has devolved from a celebration of amateur athletics to a huge political-commercial venture that impoverishes host countries (Don’t you think China could have used that $40 billion more wisely?) while enriching sponsors, television networks, and sundry others associated with the games. In fact, any use of the term “amateur athletics” and The Olympics in the same breath is simply laughable.
I say take the tens of millions we invest in the Canadian Olympic Committee and put it into true amateur sport. Build and staff arenas and swimming pools so that Canadian youth can enjoy sport for fun and fitness. Build more soccer pitches and ball diamonds. Increase funding for sports in schools. Actively encourage true amateur competition in all sports.
And if MacDonald’s and Coca-Cola and CBC and all the other sponsors still feel the need to host a periodic “world-class” sporting event let them pay the athletes to compete, the same as the NHL, the NFL, the NBA, and all other professional sports franchises.